Jxnblk Writing

The Advantages of Table Views Over Left Nav Flyouts

Saturday, December 1, 2012

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At first glance, these two navigation patterns seem very similar, but there are a few points that give table views* a huge leg up. When dealing with a multi-tiered hierarchy or a variable amount of navigation items – such as text messages, emails, folksonomic categories, folders, files, etc. – table views can be a great solution. Lists are generally easier to scan than tiles, and vertical scrolling is an easy interaction for touchscreen mobile devices.

Some advantages of table views:

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What can be learned from left nav flyouts

One advantage that the left nav flyout pattern generally has over table views is the swipe-to-reveal gesture shortcut. For table views, this gesture could be used as a shortcut for the back button – much like Loren Brichter's original Twitter for iPad – and navigation is probably a more common action than deleting items with the swipe-to-delete gesture.

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Some may argue that the modal nature of left nav flyouts is well-suited for use as filtering controls for large collections. But, to use the Apple Store app as an example again, table views can be a very efficient way to filter through large collections of information.

Forget the flyout – use table views

If your product has a complex IA that can't neatly fit into a tab bar, consider the advantages that table views can provide before jumping on the left nav flyout bandwagon.

*Note: For lack of a better term, table views refers to the one-window drilldown pattern that combines lists and navigation bars and is widely used in iOS.

Cross posted at

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