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I recently came across SXSW's native apps on iPhone and Android. Both apps revolve around the conference's schedule. On the home-screen of both apps, you get the day's schedule, which is actually a v-e-r-y long list of all events (my guess - around 200 a day) in chronological order.

SXSW iPhone app SXSW Android app

Watching other people using these apps, I realized that scrolling through the day's giant schedule is a real pain.

My questions is:

  1. What would you do to help users navigate more easily to navigate through the list? This includes: reaching later events, going back to earlier events and jumping from a specific hour to a different hour.
  2. If your solution relies on the fixed header, what would you do differently on a mobile website that doesn't have a fixed header?
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Don't feel that you need to accept an answer so promptly, a question like this can result in a lot of suggestions and would allow the community to vote up/down those which work well and provide comments about them. If you accept an answer too swiftly you may deter people from leaving their comments / answers. –  JonW Mar 2 '12 at 14:02
    
Interesting that you can see 6+ items on that Android screen and only 3.5 on the iPhone one... –  Rahul Mar 2 '12 at 14:05
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I love ICS, that Android app looks MUCH nicer than the iPhone one/// –  Ben Brocka Mar 2 '12 at 14:07
    
Jon W - thank you for your comment. I removed the acceptance mark and we'll wait a while before I choose the best answer. –  Yosef Waysman Mar 2 '12 at 15:14

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Filters are the obvious answer, which those apps appear to be doing with "Film, Interactive and Music".

My first thought on how to improve it would be to borrow the UI from my iPhone's contacts list, adapted for this instance.

Basically, use a 24 hour list on the right that would quick jump you to event at any of the given times.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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I like your solution very much! –  Yosef Waysman Mar 2 '12 at 13:56
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In fairness to my OP comment about this being the accepted answer I should say that this idea was exactly how I had pictured the solution. In-fact I opened the question especially to post this as a suggestion! –  JonW Mar 2 '12 at 14:10

There are a few approaches that may work, depending on how people interact with the event - I have never been, but the advice is quite general:

  1. Filtering by time as per @AndrewBacon's reply. A good default would be only showing events today that haven't started already.
  2. Filtering by location. A good default may simply be suggesting to filter by "nearby", which depending on the event may be 500 meters or 5 kilometers (walking/driving).

Depending on the event there will be other things that are relevant filters - essentially you want to allow people to filter by things based on how they decide, not just on what information is available. Events may have tags for example, but if people only decide based on what's nearby, tags don't need to be prominent filters.

One thing @Rahul picked up in this comment is how many items are shown on the screen at the same time - this also makes a big difference to how long users perceive the list to be, how long it takes them to scroll, etc.

A related point is that you should have an indication of where in the list the user is, allowing them to quickly jump to a place - this is what most phones do when they show the address book. This is the timeline in my mockup. It makes sense to condense times where less is happening, like 12am - 6am potentially. The yellow blob indicates where on the timeline the user is currently.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

You should also consider how you can get the user to plan / have a great time without needing to go into these long lists and filters at all. The Favourite tab may suggest popular events (or unpopular ones to avoid overcrowding) by default. It may also recognise that there's a three hour gap between two events marked as a favourite and suggest nearby events that fit into that gap.

That would ecourage something I've most enjoyed at many of the events of this type that I've been to - discovering things serendipitously. Stuff I didn't expect to find, or plan for.

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Thanks for the interesting input. You've sure given it a lot of thought. However, I was hoping to get more ideas on solving the particular problem of navigating the long list by hour. –  Yosef Waysman Mar 2 '12 at 16:51
    
And by the way - are you all just using Balsamiq as your tool of choice, or is this some kind of integration with UX SE that I'm missing? –  Yosef Waysman Mar 2 '12 at 16:53
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@YosefWaysman There's a great integration, look out for the smilie face in the editor when posting questions or answers. Often on mobiles the problem of navigating long lists is better solved by reducing the length of the list, as opposed to overlaying controls over the list. That's why I focussed on that aspect, but I have now also updated the mockup to show the purely time based approach. –  Joe Dreimann Mar 2 '12 at 17:37

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