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Take this paginated data set as an example.

enter image description here

The user can change the order, and changing the order doesn't affect the total number of results returned.

If the user changes the order, is the any common consensus for if the page should be reset back to page 1, or stay on what the user is on?

  • 1
    As a user of your website I won't pay much attention towards how things work and where I should check after chaining the option. If I am refining result set I would expect to see what I intent to see. So it should be from page 1. Ex: shopping from Amazon, if I select cheaper first then I would like to see complete fresh sorting from result no 1. – Zerotoinfinity Sep 18 at 21:15
  • As indicated in several answers and comments, this is highly dependent on whether the user additionally has an (in-view) item selected. In Outlook for instance, I often re-sort on "from" or "subject" precisely to group my currently-selected message with related ones. I am highly disappointed when Outlook (occasionally) glitches on this (loses my selection). – Jeff Y Sep 19 at 15:26
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Order of data transformation

As explained in Sorting a Paginated Record Set User Experience Expectation, and as illustrated there by the following order of data transformations:

The order of data transformation from raw data to view: raw, filter, sort, paginate, view

You can see that both filtering and sorting come before pagination.

This means that whenever the order changes (sort), you should repaginate.

Back to page one?

Whether or not you should go back to page 1 depends on the context:

The case for

Concretely in your case, once on page X and the order changes, page X most likely refers to the previous user query, not the current one.

Most of the time people go to the next page because their query wasn't answered by looking at the first page. In this case, re-ordering the data means a new attempt to answer the query (ie, locate the desired data) and in most cases this means starting from page 1 all over again.

The case against

But this is not always the case.

Say the user wants to know what item is at position 22 (say which is the 22nd cheapest item), then throwing back to page 1 after sorting is NOT a good thing.

There are more examples in the comments.

Summary

So it all depends why the user is on any page other than the first one to begin with.

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    FWIW : Windows Explorer re-sorts the file list around the selected file when changing the sort otder (same behaviour with Task Manager). Like Izhaki, 99% of the time, I find this confusing. – grahamj42 Sep 16 at 20:40
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    I think it depends a bit whether the view is of a page, or of an entry that happens to be on a page. If I've selected entry 223 and it happens to be on page 5 by the old pagination and page 8 on the new one, being thrown to the same entry on page 8 makes more sense than back to page 1. For the situation illustrated by the picture of OP though, I'd completely expect to go back to page 1. – Mast Sep 17 at 10:58
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    @R..: page 1 is almost certainly a meaningful place to go, and also probably what is desired. If I choose to sort by most recent, I probably want to see the most recent items. If I sort by votes, I probably want to see the highest-voted items. But the chances that I want to see the 80th-99th most voted items, just because I happened to previously be viewing the 80th-99th oldest items, seem really small. – Nick Matteo Sep 17 at 15:13
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    @Izhaki I use the "selected stays selected and visible" all the time. E.g. if I first find a file based on alphabetically sorted list and then re-sort to see what other files were created at the same time. – Tero Lahtinen Sep 17 at 17:31
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    There you have it! That's a good use case for not going back to page 1. @TeroLahtinen – Izhaki Sep 17 at 20:11
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Keeping the page number after changing the order makes no sense. The page number is the same but the page isn't, let alone that going back or forth between pages lost the idea of coordination. What use would that have for the user? If you test this on real users you can expect them to be confused by this. They probably expect to see the first result on page 1 after the order has changed. If you can, test this as early as possible on users or just show it to people around you and see/hear their reactions.

EDIT: To those stating that it can be useful to have the selected/active element still visible after the order has changed. There are cases where this is the required behavior, but that still means that the page number can change. It will show the page where the selected items appears after re-ordering the items, which can be a different page with different items surrounding the selected one. The only case when it is useful to stay on the same page is as @Izhaki answered, when the position of the selected item is important to the user, but I thought it's fair to assume that that is not question.

  • That's what I was thinking, I just wasn't sure if I was the off one out :P. – TMH Sep 16 at 12:14
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    Being able to select an item, change sorting, and showing a view which is paged/scrolled to the new item is useful. – supercat Sep 16 at 23:14
  • @supercat I agree, but that is not the case here. – jazZRo Sep 17 at 7:37
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    @supercat I think you meant ...showing a view which is paged/scrolled to the same/selected item... – pabouk Sep 17 at 7:38
  • @jazZRo I do not agree. That is not clear from the question. – pabouk Sep 17 at 7:41
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Note that there are cases when it makes sense to not reset to the page one—when there's a notion of the ‘current selected’ or focused item in the list. Examples are mostly desktop apps with emphasis on immediate user interaction in the list itself with the help of the concept of ‘focus,’ instead of jumping between views like in web apps:

  • a file manager that has an item selected in a directory view (especially a two-panel file manager)
  • a music player with an item currently playing or focused
  • a download manager with a downloaded item selected
  • a note-taking app that has notes as a list

etc.

In such cases, after a change in the sort order or in filters it makes sense to keep the focused item on the screen and selected. I.e. to find the item in the new list and jump to that page.

If a web app has a similar workflow, with the focused item being displayed and manipulated on the same screen as the list, then it might be prudent to borrow this feature too.

2

A sort order change should lead to a page reset (to one) when nothing is selected in the results list. The user has not yet shown specific interest in a particular entry.

If, however, there is a selection (especially in lists that have a master-detail view), it is likely the user wants to see "what is around the selected entry" - In this case, the page should not be re-set, but rather re-centered around the selected entry. It is confusing when the selected entry is suddenly paged out of view. (This also seems to be standard MS Windows design). This obviously implies you should not be presenting the same page that was show before, but the one where the selected entry is going to end up up with the new sort key - which might end up in quite a bit of a daunting task in a web-based application where the server supplies entries in chunks.

This may lead to a conflict when a list allows multiple selection of entries - In case these entries would be spread over multiple pages when re-sorted, it's probably best to remove multiple selections altogether in this case.

1

There would be a weak case for not resetting it:

User wants random samples that avoid being at the extremes of any sort order.

This certainly does not make a good default, but might be useful if selectable as an option.

If changing the sort direction while not changing the criterium, browsing to the page that has the most of the items that were visible before could be the most intuitive way, since it allows keeping context.

What might, in some cases, also be a useful option when the criterium is changed is to allow one list item to be marked (or, using the last activated item), then to change the sort order, and browse to the page where that item appears with the sort order changed.

1

I am a back-end programmer and not UI expert at all

Let say data shown in your screenshot is is sorted to Oldest First and user is on page 20

Then user thinks he wants to see newest items, so he selects Newest First, if you keep him on page 20, will he see the newest on page 20? NO

In short, pagination should be reset upon change of order

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