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For the following example shown in the screenshot (mobile app that records public transport trips), when a user visits their journey history screen there are multiple sorting chronological orders.

  1. The global sort is in reverse chronological (from oldest to most recent).
  2. Then each daily grouping is sorted in chronological order. And then each individual trip is also presented in chronological order (from departure to destination).

I find the current setup quite confusing and a few users have complained.

enter image description here

Now with this analysis I have come to a belief that there are a few options to improve this.

  1. I think the daily sorting should follow the same sorting and be in reverse chronological order. But then should the trip sort also be reversed (from destination to departure)?
  2. Maybe removing the daily grouping would be the best option though it helps structure the layout of the screen better.

Are there any proven patterns that work best for this kind of scenario?

2 Answers 2

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Patterns for similar scenarios

I did a fair amount of searching through my apps and was able to find 3 examples somewhat similar to what you're trying to do: Kahoot's event history, Uber's ride history, and Amazon's tracking history.

enter image description here

They're not as close to your scenario as I'd like in that they don't show durations or start/stop times, but you can see that in all these examples events on the same day are sorted in reverse chronological order.

Here are other types of apps I'd recommend you check out to see if you can find more examples in the wild:

  • Other public transit apps (though I assume you've done that already)
  • Airlines
  • Package tracking apps
  • Toll histories
  • Apps that track sleep or exercise that has a start and stop, like walking, running, and hiking.

My recommendation

Unless you find something wildly different when you look for more examples, I'd recommend following your instinct and sorting everything in reverse chronological order. Since we're looking at a history of what's already happened, I'd expect to always see what's most recent at the top. I would keep the daily grouping the way it is, and I agree with you that it adds necessary structure to the screen.

I think part of the problem is that the current screen combines two different mental models—history and itinerary—that are usually sorted differently. Stick to just history, and think of it as "here's a list of the places I've been." Then reverse chronological order at all levels makes sense.

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  • Thank you for going into the trouble and spending time to find examples! I also looked into some of these (like Uber, Lyft and lime) and noticed they all follow reverse chronological order. I think the particularity in my case is the daily grouping and departure to destination information. It was harder to find similar examples but yes I agree with you. I think I'll go for reverse chronological order.
    – Kate
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 6:50
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When there is such an exaggeratedly strong linear reading, in this case from top to bottom, it's logical the expectation is to find all the items displayed in that same lineal order. With items that go up and down or reverse, it's logical the user sees inconsistency in the result.

enter image description here

You should find a way to counteract this hegemony by reinforcing an opposite sense of reading to balance. This is an example, not a graphical solution:

enter image description here

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  • Thank you! So if I understand correctly your suggestion is to improve the reading flow of the screen altogether as today there are conflicting reading orders. I see that in your example you have removed the daily grouping and changed the departure -destination layout so it reads more fluidly. I think this will take more effort to develop but I like the idea and will explore further with my PO and devs.
    – Kate
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 6:56

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