Thanks. So what would be a better GUI design in your opinion??
I can't know this without knowing your app properly. My main gripe
with tree views on web pages is historical. For a lot of their uses
tree views in web pages are very inappropriate, and their justification
is very poor:
- we want it to look 'sophisticated' like a regular application or cool
- our native UI version works this way
- it worked well in this other context, so its like 'universal' right?
- I found code on the internet that does it this way
- I can't think of any other way to organise hierarchical data
Just trees can easily break on the web, when they get either deep
or wide, and normally when you are picking trees it is because
the data they represent is either deep or wide. They also hit
scaling issues rapidly, and really the use-trees-by-default is a
mentality that I feel must be fought. You should *always* be
thinking about usability.
This does mean that I have to go the long way round to arrive
at an appropriate usage for trees, but that hasn't happened yet.
I'm open to suggestions - thought about displaying a nested list with a
'considered' use of fonts. If I did this I'd like it to be in a
scrollable view - not sure how do a scrollable view within a page??
You don't. Inner scrollbars are one of those 'other' desktop-thinking
UI elements that pushed into web pages too much. Your browser
already has a scrollbar, use that for your menu scrolling too (i.e.
don't scroll your menu independently of your main content.
Basically just scroll the page and your menu scrolls with the
content. In order to figure out what kind of menu you need, you
have to have a feel for the data, and a list is a better model,
but you need to limit its depth to one entry only. As for font use,
bear in mind that your font selections are limited anyway - the
user won't have them in a lot of cases. So vary different things
by font-family (serif/sans-serif etc.)
Have a good read of Jacob Nielsens stuff on Usability:
He kind of gets a bad rap for not being 'cool enough', but like all
adages, make sure you know the rules before you decide to
Its all nice being cool and such, and then you find that your users
want to be able to print stuff, or use their accessibility features. Or
maybe they don't use a $80 high precision mouse. Theres a school
of thought out there that when evaluating a UI you should use
inferior pointing equipment, like a stiff trackball.