Modern web designers must refer to responsive design in each of their design, including for tables. Creating responsive tables can be hard because you need to adjust their sizes and character sizes with user experience. Bad designs can result in full table view that is hard to read or large table that requires complicated scrolling.
Creating responsive table designs get more complicated when you must fit them into mobile device interface. However, there are several solutions to create a better view without compromising comfort or readability factor. Here are some of the solutions.
Focus on the Most Important Data
People who use mobile devices appreciate concise, well-targeted information, including in tables. You can do this by leaving only the most important data for the mobile version, and the complete one for the web/desktop version. Choose the data that are discussed in the texts and add links to the full data sources.
This method is simple and practical, but it does not provide enough space for full data presentation. Mobile device users must do multiple steps just to get the full data. However, this works well enough for casual readers.
Create Collapsible Tables
Collapsible tables are great for both desktop and mobile versions. They reduce clutter on the page and allow mobile device users to choose the data parts they want to see. You can also keep the tables in larger sizes without eliminating any important data. However, creating collapsible tables requires extra steps compared to cut some data like the previous solution.
Reformat the Data
Reformatting the data is a part of creating adaptive content, changing how they look to save space without cutting or reducing them. For example, when displaying tables about weather forecast in various areas in the US, you can use abbreviations for the state names, choose single values for number information, and remove unnecessary descriptors.
Reformatting the data may sound too much for some designers, but it is preferable compared to inability to read the tables, which creates negative experiences for mobile users. This way, you can preserve important information while making the tables more comfortable to read.
Provide Options for Users
Another sign of responsive design is the ability for users to choose how they view information. In the case of tables, you can add options such as displaying the newest information, lowest price, nearest destination, and such. This way, users can directly choose what they want to see without having to scroll all parts of the tables.
Create Comparison Columns
Comparison columns are often displayed on websites that sell similar types of products, which make prospective customers conduct product comparisons when shopping. You can create comparison columns that list each product next to each other, with variables such as brand names, series, main features, prices, and feature comparisons placed on the left side.
Want to make the table more responsive? Turn them into two-column comparison table for the mobile version. Users can still compare products, but now, they get more readable tables that are easier to decipher.
Create Moveable Table Rows
Moveable table rows are designed for web users who use mobile devices to scroll wide tables. This is effective for tables that have three to eight columns but short rows, allowing you to scroll horizontally. This is effective for tables with little amount of content, but you need to design the legends to stay on the left side when you scroll.
Turn Tables into Separate Cards
Completely transforming the tables is often the last solution when others do not give satisfying viewing experience. Turning tables into cards are useful for large tables with a lot of information that cannot be cut. This way, you can present the data in various ways, and readers can choose the part of the tables they want to see.
Separate cards also make it easier for serious readers to filter the content. You can also divide the table information into multiple pages for easier viewing. However, there are risks of repeating the column names, and comparing specific data between different rows might be difficult, especially if the rows are situated far from each other.
Web designers need to make sure that web visitors can read the tables regardless of the devices they use. Try these tricks to make tables more responsive and readable, and make the website informative without reducing the user experience quality.