Let's say we have a system that executes some tasks.

  • You can model your processes by creating task lists.
  • Tasks in a list can be executed either sequentially or in parallel (depending on a list type)
  • Both types of lists needs to be presented as vertical ones
  • In some use cases tasks lists must be presented without broader context of the whole workflow - just the list

What do you think is a good signifier to support user in figuring out the way the tasks will be executed?

An example might be a two stages process:

  1. 10 tasks executed in parallel in the first stage
  2. 10 tasks executed sequentially in the secondstage

User can navigate between two lists with a simple swipe gesture (like between lists in Trello).

  • Are you looking for a graphical solution? If so could you please share an example of a list and how a running task is represented?
    – Alvaro
    Jan 13, 2017 at 20:39
  • @Alvaro task is just a row. Example... there may be a process with 2 stages - first has 10 tasks that are executed in parallel, the second has 10 tasks that are executed sequentially Jan 13, 2017 at 20:45

3 Answers 3


Something like this works for me in designing workflows:


  • Thanks! Yeah, kind of a fork metaphore, but what if I have vertical lists only 😉? (Let me update my question) Jan 13, 2017 at 20:16
  • @MaciekCzarnik couldn't this work for you in vertical?
    – Alvaro
    Jan 13, 2017 at 20:35
  • You mean using arrows @Alvaro ? Yeah it could work, but I'm not convinced. I believe there could be some better option. Consider showing it on a small screen for example Jan 13, 2017 at 20:37
  • And situation like parallel Task 1 and Task 2 on the right bottom is not an option - they need to be presented in a vertical list as well Jan 13, 2017 at 20:40
  • They are in a vertical sequence, to put them on top of each other runs the risk that they are interpreted as one after the other. Jan 13, 2017 at 20:42

Without more context and maybe misunderstanding the question these are some ideas, I hope they are not too simplistic.

An ordered list implies order:

  1. TaskA
  2. TaskB
  3. TaskC

An unordered list implies no specific order:

  • TaskD
  • TaskE
  • TaskF

If tasks are running you can indicate it with text and encourage it with color, opacity, symbols, etc.

  1. TaskA (finished)
  2. TaskB (running)
  3. TaskC


  • TaskD (running)
  • TaskE (finished)
  • TaskF (running)

If you want to reinforce how the list will work before, you could indicate it:

  1. TaskA (click to start)
  2. TaskB (enqueued. waiting for previous task to complete)
  3. TaskC (enqueued)


  • TaskD (click to start)
  • TaskE (click to start)
  • TaskF (click to start)
  • Good hint! I like the idea of signifying it with some symbols (numbers vs dots), but it's additional information to be presented. Maybe there's something even more subtle? The way these lists are different also impacts the presence of reordering affordance, it may be some signifier as well... Jan 13, 2017 at 21:07
  • They're ordered lists v's unordered lists... something is lost in translation here... Jan 13, 2017 at 21:10
  • @DarrylGodden I'm not English native (obviously). Could you elaborate what do you mean?
    – Alvaro
    Jan 13, 2017 at 21:12
  • Not you, what Maciek is looking for is not clear. Jan 13, 2017 at 21:12

One option is to "group" tasks that are run in parallel. This might even be simpler and easier for users to understand if they aren't dealing with this kind of thing normally. You could do it with numbers, bullet points, or graphical groupings, for example:

enter image description here

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