Designing Web for Big Data

As a web developer and designer the usual challenges I encounter involve things like making sure the page loads fast, providing users with a good layout that directs them to the content in an efficient manner, ensuring that the navigation makes sense, validating their input to prevent user errors and generally making their browsing experience pleasant. All these issues and their solutions have been documented dozen times over by many people. Most of the specifics of the various issues that arise are known and most of the ways to resolve those specific issues are also known. Once in a while however, I find myself dealing with “big data” and then the question becomes, how do I present the user with a lot of data – visual or textual – in a manner that’s not overwhelming, that makes it easy to navigate said data and more importantly, understand and work with it. Or to put it more bluntly, how the heck do I make a table that has hundreds of rows and dozens of columns not a complete pain to deal with?

In this article I will go over some of the specific issues I encountered when building and designing web pages with large amounts of data and the approaches I took to resolve those issues. Not all of my solutions will be appropriate for every type of problem but hopefully this information will come in handy in the future. Read more »