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If you look at the search results provided by Google and Bing,they have their pagination right at the bottom (after all the search results in a page are displayed)

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I was just wondering about the design rationale behind that other than the fact that it would requires to look at all the search results before going on to the next page

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6  
You just answered your own question in the last paragraph :) –  Rahul Jan 24 '12 at 23:50
    
Thanks ,but I was just wondering since both Google and Bing did have pagination at both at the top and the bottom before. –  Mervin Johnsingh Jan 25 '12 at 0:09
1  
Should I go hunting for Google & Bing UI engineers on Twitter again? =) –  dnbrv Jan 25 '12 at 0:16
1  
@dnbrv I wouldn't expect Google or MS designers to be as ready to respond as Twitter's... –  Ben Brocka Jan 25 '12 at 2:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

We can use common sense to answer this question. Let's say you put pagination on the top of your SERP and it has 6 results, only 3 of which fit above the fold. This is the first SERP page:

________________
| 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 |
|               |
| Result 1      |
| Result 2      |
| Result 3      |
-----------------
. Result 4      .
. Result 5      .
. Result 6      .
-----------------

By putting the pagination on top, you are allowing the user to go to the second page without even considering results 4-6. There's a higher likelihood that the desired result is somewhere in 4-6, rather than 7-12, because search engines sort by relevance. There's no reason to skip a whole chunk of more relevant results just to search through less relevant results.

If, however, the pagination were on the bottom, there would be no gaps in the user's scanning. The user is forced to scan past all results on a page before going onto the next page.

________________
| Result 1      |
| Result 2      |
| Result 3      |
| Result 4      |
| Result 5      |
| Result 6      |
|               |
| 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 |
|_______________|

The fundamental design lesson to learn here is that you should position elements where they are most likely to be used.

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Although in Bing and Google it makes sense to have pagination at the bottom of the page, remember in an e-commerce setting it's not always appropriate to have the pagination only at the bottom.

For example:

I'm looking for a pair of skis and I know the name of them starts with the letter "E" but can't remember the name, just remember "E". I would typically search for "Skis" but then Sort By: "Alphabetical" so that way I can search through by the beginning letter as opposed to relevancy.

That's the only time though I could see it being useful to have the pagination at the top as well as the bottom.

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1  
Even then it's questionable: what if you're on one of the "D" pages and the first E item is actually halfway down that page? If you had pagination at the top, you'd click "next" and arrive at the first E page, but miss the few earlier results that had been displayed on the last D page. –  Rahul Jan 25 '12 at 22:27
    
@Rahul: I don't think you need to second-guess users like that. Most users will know when they're browsing an alphabetized directory (e.g. a page for each letter) and when they're browsing an alphabetically sorted list. Also, in the scenario Joe describes, if the user isn't able to instantly guess which page their item starts on and needs to flip through multiple pages, it'd be annoying having to scroll all the way down on every single page "flip". –  Lèse majesté Jan 25 '12 at 23:47

The search results are ordered by "relevance" according to google and other search engines.

Having done a bit of SEO work, research has shown that the user will most likely click on the links on the first page, with click through rates decreasing exponentially as we get to the second page and so on.

So, there is no need for the pagination to be at the top of the page. Since results are ordered by relevance, it would be counter-intuitive if the "more relevant results" are on the second page.

The pagination is to be used only when the user did not find anything relevant on the first page.

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