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When selecting a video to watch, and the current season lists episodes in descending order (newest at top), should previous seasons (which appear in a different page), list episodes in ascending or descending order? The concept is that users that watch with regularity want the newest to be quick to find (no scroll), but that users that are just starting or playing catch-up have a different point of view.

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Having two types of users (new watchers and old fans) it will be good to detect them by their behavior and develop adaptive system. The third type will present too, which is 'unclassified'. –  Alexey Kolchenko Dec 3 '13 at 21:09
    
Surely both lists should be in order of broadcast, however there is an easy/obvious method (or perhaps it is the default) to start at the end of the list - at the most recent episode. –  RedSirius Jan 3 at 15:29
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2 Answers

You have two types of viewers. 1) Viewers who are discovering/watching the show for the first time (new viewers) 2) Viewers who are keeping up with a show as the season progresses (existing viewers)

Right now you're optimizing for Existing Viewers, and from that I deduce the following: 1) If you have your choice between serving one existing viewer or one new viewer, you'd take the existing viewer 2) User types being equally valuable, you believe that an existing viewer is likely to be dissuaded by an experience that forces them to click through to their desired episode more than a new viewer.

The existing viewer case might be easily solvable by an Ascending order (oldest episodes first) and a one-click dispatch to "Watch Latest Episode" (a la Hulu), but in the event that the viewer is two or three weeks behind this doesn't really suit their need.

Whatever you do, it's important to be consistent (so all lists should ALWAYS maintain the same order, no matter which it is), but I'd encourage you to really think about which case is the more valuable one for your product and business, and, just as important, what the expected psychological consequences are for each order methodology on each user type.

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This isn't really a question that can be answered in the absence of research.

You should look at each page, come up with the use cases, prioritize them, and then do your layout and sorting based on those use cases.

If the current episode screen shows a primary use case of "I want to watch the most recent episode", then you should definitely sort descending.

However, if the archive page has a different use case, then perhaps it should be sorted differently.

There's always the question of consistency, as in "What does the user expect?". If you think that a different sort on each page would be jarring to a user, then perhaps you'll have to choose one sort method that will work for both pages.

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