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I have a list of items (currently < 20, but could expand drastically).

For a mobile experience, it's our thought to load 5 list items (sorted by default to "Newest") and then request the next 5 results by interacting with "Load more".

If the user interacts with the sort/filter controls, what would be best practice?

  1. The entire list expands with the desired sort/filter actions.
  2. Perform the desired sort/filter, but limit the results to the number the user has loaded (user has clicked "Load more" twice, so we're now showing 15 list items.)
  3. Pagination could also be a solution, I suppose.
  4. Anything else?

I can see pros and cons to both. In #2 above, the user may've been seeing a result, but that result is now buried once the list has been sorted differently. I understand that this isn't a huge problem in a ~20 item list, but how does this scale? Any resources you could point me to?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The main issue with "Load more" interaction is limiting user awareness of the total data amount, which is accessible for manupulation (sorting/filtering). This could lead to creating wrong user's mental model.

Indeed, some users could think that only delivered (displayed) data are accessible. In this case you could observe weird behavior, when user presses "Load more" several times to create data set and then sorts/filters it.

Also there is an issue with loading more data to locally sorted data.

So it's better to use sort/filter all the list and let user to know the amount of data. These task are successfully solved with Pagination pattern:

  • informing of data amount – to create right mental model
  • limiting data view (per-page) – to reduce cognitive load
  • good scalability

You could also read related question: Which should be the correct behavior for sort in multi-page list?


In a real life limiting awareness sometimes is used as manipulative tool.
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Great answer on the provided link. We do have a "Showing 5 of 17 items" to show the breadth of product. Using that in tandem with pagination seems best, while sorting/filtering the entire data set at once. Thanks for your answer. –  cowcat Dec 3 '13 at 17:54
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