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In a lot of the projects I've worked on, often there's a list of items where the users can manually organize the order, so that they're presented in the desired order in the web page.

Normally these lists are pretty long, so naturally we section the data with pagination, which then presents the problem: how do you order these items when they're sectioned off?

In our past projects, we leave the problem to the users, and simply add an input to each item for the users to key in the sort number. The larger the number, the higher the position it is on the list.

But this feels like really bad UX in my opinion, since the users have to make sure the numbers aren't repeated or the order might mess up.

I've thought about drag and dropping items to make things more intuitive, but then you can't drag and drop beyond the current page, which limits the range of the re-ordering.

Any thoughts on how this could be implemented?


Edit:
Sorry I guess my description is a bit too vague, so I'm gonna try my best at it again.

It's essentially a table, but instead of sorting it with columns (like Name A->Z), it's a custom order that the user can define, like the results you would get with drag and drop rearrangement.

The issue is the data is paginated, so the user can only see, say, 15 items at a time, which limits the range drag and drop can reorder.

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  • Does this answer your question? Web Usability: pagination and column sort Mar 21 at 6:59
  • @locationunknown no unfortunately, as the list isn't being sorted by columns, but by customized ordering.
    – Vicky
    Mar 21 at 7:23
  • Do you have a sense from user research or analytics how important it is for users to order all items (such as with a PowerPoint), or are they more looking to prioritize / deprioritize a few key items?
    – Izquierdo
    Mar 21 at 14:14
  • @Izquierdo Hmm I'm actually not sure since the projects were planned by someone else, but I guess it's more about prioritizing/deprioritizing a few items. Do you have any suggestions in this case?
    – Vicky
    Mar 23 at 1:54

2 Answers 2

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You can add a space where users can drag and drop items that need to go to a different page. Then the user can move to the right page and drag and drop the items from that space into the list.

Though the implementation of this will probably introduce all kinds of new problems to solve. How many items can that space hold, what if the user doesn’t want to sort the item anymore etc.

It also introduces a pattern that your users will need to get accustomed to. When they need to navigate through many pages to sort many items, it can become problematic.

Maybe you need to take a few steps back in the design process or even step back to defining strategy and scope of this feature. When you encounter two conflicting requirements like sorting while paginating it is often good to see where those requirements come from. Can you solve both without making them dependent on each other?

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  • This seems like a viable option. But yeah, it could have some potential issues. Maybe having something like a context menu that the users can input which page to move it to might have less problems?
    – Vicky
    Mar 23 at 2:08
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I like the way powerpoint is doing it with their sections. You can group slides together with sections, can collapse and expand them and move a whole section to another position in the presentation. Maybe this is something you could apply?

powerpoint slides with sections

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  • Usually data is fetched from the database when the user changes page, which means there's only limited data present. In this case though, all the data is being presented, they're just being grouped together, which is a different scenario
    – Vicky
    Mar 21 at 9:13
  • So why not show all the items? That would allow way better drag and drop options for the user.
    – Nash
    Mar 21 at 10:17
  • Because it kinda contradicts the "Pagination vs Infinite Scroll" suggestions that I've found, so yeah, not really sure what to do about that
    – Vicky
    Mar 23 at 1:57

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