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I've been 30+ years in IT and for me down arrow always mean: decrease (volume, value), subtract, move backward etc. Pressing the down button on the left or right side of any mobile device means volume down. Period.

For Microsoft (in Windows 11) it means increase (month):

enter image description here

This is as nonsensical, stupid and not obvious as it can be. I find myself always changing the calendar month in the opposite direction. My mind says "press down arrow to go backward" while Microsoft designers said "press down arrow to go forward".

What am I missing?

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    Probaly the simple fact that this arrow means 'next' and not 'increase'. I won't say it must be more logical for you but, as far as I can tell, that could have been the rationale. :-)
    – Gábor
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 19:58
  • Arrows can be interpreted as increase/decrease or next/previous. In this case replacing the upward pointing arrow with "Prev." and the downward with "Next" would eliminate the need to interpret the arrow images based on context. Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 10:44
  • If you have a monthly calendar, where each page is a new month, what direction do you navigate to go to the next month? I think that's what this is intended to mimic. I think left and right would be more intuitive, though, since this is not a paper calendar.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 9:56

3 Answers 3

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It's very nearly the same as this:

A listbox with numerical values, increasing downwards

Natural "reading order" for most cultures is from top to bottom, so when you place sequential things (whether it's a sequence of numbers, or the sequence of days in a year) in a list, later items appear below earlier ones (in your calendar, the 31st appears below the 24th). When we put that into a scrollable container, the down arrow moves down (towards later values), and the up arrow moves up (towards earlier values).

"Increasing" and "decreasing" a month is a computer-programmer way of thinking about things, while moving "earlier" and "later" through time, presented as a list of hours, days, and months, is more natural to most other people.

The "two arrows, no bar" widget is an alternative realization of the scrollbar that can be used where the list continues indefinitely, so it would be meaningless for the handle to try to show "how far down the list" you are.

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My guess is that it's referring to the position of the next month in a calendar, which is either to the right or to the bottom of the current month. The calendar itself is just following the ordinary writing direction - left to right, top to bottom. Why didn't they choose left (to decrease) and right (to increase)? That's only something the responsible designer can answer, I'm afraid ...

(That said, I can sympathize with your problems. Myself, I'm more annoyed by date pickers where I can't just type the date, but have to click twelve times to select a date next year ...)

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    The last portion of the preceding month is shown at the top of the screen display, and the first portion of the following month is shown at the bottom. That suggests that the screen is showing a portion of a calender that stacks all of the weeks vertically.
    – supercat
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 19:42
  • @CaveJohnson thanks, I'm a lefty so I'm bound to mix things up ...
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 20:03
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    I strongly suspect that the reasoning for the arrow direction choice is to avoid the need for different behavior in RTL locales. Using a right pointing arrow to advance the date only works logically if things to the right are logically temporally ordered further into the future than the current point, but that is not universally the case in RTL locales. But almost all languages are read top to bottom (there are maybe a dozen known exceptions to this), and have a matching logical temporal progression. Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 22:40
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The arrow corresponds to direction of the eyes opposed date value:

  • The date values increase as the eyes look in the downward direction.

  • The date values decease as the eyes look in the upward direction.

The arrow in the screenshot allows the user to navigate through the information space (e.g. calendar dates) according to convention of reading from left-to-right and top-to-bottom (in the target audience's written language).

An alternative could be using a left arrow and a right arrow for the user to move back or forth through the calendar.

Most importantly, your observation is of substance, and the UX decision is frustrating: UX Issue: UP/DOWN arrows used to navigate Calendar Months

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