Detail on Demand Pattern Set Version this Page
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Some available information or actions can be considered details and are not needed most of the time. The most often used items (information or actions) should be right at hand and distinct from the details that can be accessed only if needed.
Patterns Contained in This Set
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Hover Details Details that are exposed when you move your cursor over a link or icon that represents an object
Dialog Box Details Details that are available by launching a dialog box
Hide and Show Details Details that are available within a collapsible section of the page
Show More/Show Less Detail Enables the user to toggle between an abbreviated list of details and full details
Drill-Down Details Details that are available by drilling down into a detail page
Pattern Set Decision Table
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Dialog Box
Hide and
Show Details
Show More/
Show Less


Do the details become a primary resource for users and steps in their tasks? Do the users spend considerable time looking at the details? No No Yes Yes Yes
Do users need to quickly obtain details (glance and close)? Yes Yes Yes No No
Do these details need to be seen in conjunction with the other information? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
How much space do the details use? Small
or data
Does not exceed 512 x 384 pixels A few inches
of screen
real estate
A few inches
of screen
real estate
A page or
more of
Getting Started with This Pattern Set
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To get started with this pattern set:

  1. Decide which portions of the available information or actions that the user needs most frequently.  As a rule of thumb, this information consists of functionality or content that is used more than 25 percent of the time by a user visiting that page. Required fields that have not been defaulted or already completed are always most frequently needed.
  2. Show the most frequently needed information on the page; consider everything else details.
  3. Select from the following patterns to provide interactive ways for the user to get to and from the details. The details may be in view or edit mode as required.
Related Patterns
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Master Detail Provides a special way of showing details and their relationships with the parent object or set
Record Navigation Enables efficient interobject navigation when users are working through lists of objects. May be used when users need to see details for a multiple objects from an object set
Hierarchies Provides a method of organizing and displaying large sets of hierarchical information (Tree, Categorized Content)
Related Guidelines
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Headers Guidelines for headers and subheaders including show/hide regions
Secondary Windows Guidelines governing the use of secondary windows or dialog boxes
Tables Guidelines for row detail regions in a table
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