I have an interface allowing a user to search for various Wines. You start by selecting a Type: Red, White or Sparkling.

This will pull the from the database all the Varietals for your selection. You then make a Varietal selection and it will sort the Countries, Region and Appellations and so on. This is how you sort a selection.

To make a selection we have a user Double Click on either the Type, Varietal or Country.

The idea of sorting is a single click and selecting is a double-click is not as intuitive as we thought. Any suggestions on a better way of sorting and then selecting choices like this.

This is for Web not a desktop app

  • 3
    Do you have a screenshot or mockup of what you're talking about?
    – Rahul
    Sep 8, 2010 at 17:08
  • Is this a web based or a desktop app? It makes a difference. Sep 8, 2010 at 17:43
  • I am a little fuzzy on your use of "sort". It sounds like they pick the type and then they "sort" by selecting a sub type. Could you explain what sort does differently than select? Sep 8, 2010 at 19:01
  • I agree that more info on your user interface and the app would be required. I don't quite understand how Varietal selection sorts other things or what does it mean to make a selection.
    – Carlos
    Sep 9, 2010 at 16:53

2 Answers 2


Double clicking is generally associated with desktop apps on Windows machines, so it is not an expected feature for web apps. As Rahul pointed out, double click is being used effectively in web apps such as Google Maps. Google uses double click to zoom in on a map location, but they don't rely on double click as the only way to zoom. It is OK to use double click, but not as primary functionality. Especially because double click isn't even a standard across all operating systems. For example, in addition to double click, Google provides a zoom bar on the upper left.

From what you explained, I would allow them to choose the main type and then display a grid(or something similar) that displays all of the wines in that type. You can then have a little menu above or to the side of the grid that lets them check what they would like to filter by. This is used often on store fronts such as Amazon.com or Newegg.com and it works well. You can also provide a little display to show them what they are filtering by and allow them to remove filters.

  • "It is not an expected feature for web apps" - depends on the type of web app. Mapping apps like Google Maps have a pretty solid doubleclick convention now.
    – Rahul
    Sep 8, 2010 at 19:12
  • 1
    Sure they make use of double click for things like zooming in, but they don't rely on double click as the only way to zoom in. Double click isn't even a convention across operating systems, so I recommend against using it for primary functionality. Sep 8, 2010 at 19:36
  • Perhaps you should edit that nuance into your answer :)
    – Rahul
    Sep 9, 2010 at 8:30
  • Thank you, this was a helpful discussion on exactly what I'm "sorting" our in my head.
    – Xtian
    Sep 9, 2010 at 14:30

As web application users are more used to single clicking for actions you could introduce an up and down arrow in the column header that the user clicks on to perform the sort:

alt text

The biggest drawback with this is that the up and down arrows are quite small and might be hard to select with accuracy.

  • Alternative to this: Have a click sort the column in one direction and show the current sort direction with an arrow, and another click sort in the opposite direction. Slightly less obvious which makes using it dependent on how important it is that sorting is obvious, but it reduces the click target problem.
    – jasonrr
    Sep 9, 2010 at 14:32
  • @jasonrr - interesting idea. You could have a three state option. No arrows unsorted, click to sort ascending, click to sort descending, (click again to unsort ????).
    – ChrisF
    Sep 9, 2010 at 14:51

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