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tldr:

Has anyone ever seen a list of date-specific items, sorted by "distance from today" regardless of whether they're past or future?

Detail:

I have a page showing two lists of online webinars: future webinars (which users can register for) and past webinars (which users can watch on-demand). The lists are in two separate tabs, but shown side-by-side in this diagram:

enter image description here

We have always separated these by type - future and past - because the two types require opposite sort order. For future events, users expect them to be ordered by soonest first, i.e. today's event, then tomorrow's, then next week, next month, etc. Whereas for past events, the assertion is that users are most interested in recently-recorded webinars, i.e. yesterday, then two days ago, then a week ago, etc.

A stakeholder has pointed out that the two separate tabs are hiding content from users, and that users may not care about the past vs future status of a webinar - they may simply want to see everything that we have on a chosen topic. Which seems like a valid and useful point, but I can't figure out how to order the list.

Whether we order by date-descending (i.e. farthest future first) or date-ascending (i.e. oldest first), today's event (which is arguably the most important to the user) will not be at the top of the list (see below).

enter image description here

The stakeholder then proposed that we should order by "distance from today", ignoring whether the event is past or future. This would put today's event at the top of the list, followed by any events from yesterday and/or tomorrow, then next week and/or last week, and so on (see below).

enter image description here

Has anyone ever seen a list ordered like this? I'd love to see some prior examples but I haven't found any so far. It seems bizarre to me - my gut feeling is that users would be confused by it.

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The final suggestion mentioned in your question sounds very unintuitive. Browsing past events and looking for upcoming ones are two different use cases. "Oh wow, this event looks awesome! Let me just--oh, never mind... it happened 4 months ago."

Instead, I'd expect to see events sorted from past to future, like a timeline or calendar. Something like the following might be more along the lines of what I've seen before and would know how to interact with it pretty quickly.

Calendar showing all months as clickable tabs, and the month's details as a scrollable list below

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  • Thank you, this is an interesting solution! Mar 15, 2023 at 9:09
  • Hi @wiiiiilllllll, if you liked it please accept the answer as correct
    – Devin
    May 25, 2023 at 19:24

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