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I have a client who considers their content to be evergreen, and is unwilling to make the publication date of each content item visible.

This is fine on detail pages, but on listing pages, or topic pages, how can we sort content in a list?

We can't use relevance because there's no search term. We can't use alphabetical because the list will always stay almost completely constant (i.e. the first page of the listing will only change if something early enough in the alphabet to appear on page 1 of the listings is published).

The only solution I can think of is using date even though we can't display the date, and simply titling the column "sort by date, ascending" or "descending." I really hate doing that without actually displaying the date though - it seems like it could be confusing.

But I'm having a hard time coming up with anything else we could use instead. Any ideas?

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Thanks for your feedback, guys. We ended up going with "newest / oldest," without showing the exact date of the items. The client was comfortable with this compromise, and we found it to be clear visibly as long as the sorting mechanism is prominent. –  enderisnotmyrealname Jan 8 at 20:20
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2 Answers 2

You could allow an admin defined sort order. Allow admin to order items as they see fit and display the items in that order. This would be good for ever green content as the admin could decide which items they wanted to promote with page one status at any given time.

Another solution would be to allow general users to sort the items themselves, by rating them or by selecting things they like / dislike and ordering appropriately. In this case you could also order content based on which items are liked the most by other users.

With both of these options you could also give the user the opportunity to view new things published since they last viewed the site.

You could also augment the process by suggesting things in some other way to users, like a 'users who read this also read ...'

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It may be that the client does not intend to update their content very regularly (which would be a valid reason for keeping the date off), so it wouldn't be helpful to sort by date or to even mention dates or time. Let the owner set the order for each piece of content, and if no custom order is set, then order by newest first. You can call it ordered by "Relevance" since it is really what the owner determines to be relevant.

ColinSharpe's other suggestions are also very good, and are certainly more ideal solutions, but may be out of scope.

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