I'm building an app where I need the ability to reorder list items (most often in the range of 2-15 items).

I despise drag and drop especially for lists long enough to go off-screen.

I have an idea that I would like to vet/refine: "Click to reorder". It would work as such:

  1. provide an entry point to ordering mode. (e.g. "reorder" button)
  2. click an item in the list to indicate that you'd like to start putting things after that item (it becomes highlighted as a reference)
  3. click another item and it is moved from its spot in the list, to after the reference item.
  4. The new item becomes highlighted as the new reference to be inserted after.
  5. note, in order to move an item to the beginning of the list, when reorder mode is invoked a special 0-indexed "start of list" anchor item would need to appear.

Examples: To reorder a list, basically click things in the order you'd like them to be in.

To move something to the start of the list, click the "start of list" anchor, then the item to be moved.

To move something to the end of the list, click the last item, then the item intended to become the last item.

None of those seem to involve substantially more traversing and clicking in the list.

Is this an usable/unusable idea? Are there major issues? Have you seen it fail/succeed elsewhere?


  • Can we get a sketch or a mockup? Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 20:38
  • Hmmm... So, if I make a mistake in my ordering, do I have to start again from scratch? How can I just move one item up or down the list? Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 14:30
  • @AndrewMartin All the ordering you did up to the mistake is fine. You'd have one item where you don't want it. Fixing that is always the same amount of effort needed in drag & drop. You need to navigate to where it needs to go, click and then click the item.
    – z5h
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


Even tho you don't prefer, drag and drop is quite standard and widely used in apps.

The most common example itunes on your phone or just about any music or video player that includes playlists, which have more than 15 items in their list.


I think the main issue here is with point #3.

  1. click another item and it is moved from its spot in the list, to after the reference item.

After isn't wrong, but it's implied. Some users may think / prefer that clicking the item makes things go before it, causing possible confusion.

  • It's a good point. My hunch is that if you simply say "click things in the order they should appear" people will figure it out.
    – z5h
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 15:24
  • Yeah actually I read that wording and understood what you meant, but with the description of actions you have made the assumption that the user wants to select a position first (the item to add things after) and then the target (which will be put afterward) if my mental model of the world led me to think I would first select the item i wanted to move (the target) and then the position I wanted it to move to, then your proposal would be backwards for me. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 19:14

In my opinion it would be alright, as long as you make it obvious where you are intending to place the object.

enter image description here

Maybe doing something like this would be more effective, letting the user click on the space they want to insert it, instead of the object they'd like to insert it after. If you include and animation or something similar to let the user know what is happening, I think it could be effective.

Drag and drops have their place, but I agree that a long list isn't the place for it.

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