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On a web page, where users must select geographical location so as to proceed with the next step, I'd like to provide both options of list view and map view. I'd like to cater to both preference styles at the same time.

The question is what would be the best way to accommodate those, so that users of either preference quickly notice that they can view the locations in their preferred manner.

I have come up with a number of options:

a) list on top, map below:

enter image description here

my concerns:

  • if the list is too long, the map would not be immediately visible on a mobile device;
  • users may wonder if both views refer to the same thing and serve the same purpose;

b) map on top, list below:

enter image description here

my concerns:

  • graphical images have higher visual weight than text. That is, users preferring lists, would get distracted by the visual object of the map and that would take up time and effort to process that it is not the thing they want, even though it caught their attention;
  • users may wonder if both views refer to the same thing and serve the same purpose;

c) tab view - tabs on top

enter image description here

my concerns:

  • tab view inherently gives priority to one the of the two views;
  • my personal observations are that the majority of people are too eager/ careless scrolling and do not notice tab buttons, when those are placed on a row above the content

d) tab view - tabs vertically on the left

enter image description here

my concerns:

  • tab view inherently gives priority to one the of the two views;
  • tabs on the left must be repositioned as tabs on a row above the content, on a mobile device, so we end up with option c)

How would you test which option requires least thinking what to look for?

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In mobile view the hierarchy tends to be from top to bottom because of the limited horizontal space, so you'll find that it is hard to accommodate the map and list view side-by-side, or even in the same view without scrolling (if the list view is long for example).

I don't think there's a problem with giving a default view that is sensible given the amount of information. For example, default to map view is the list view contains over x number of items, or default to list view when the items are clustered closely to each other (depends also on the zoom levels available for your map and how close the items can be placed next to each other).

Since you can't really tell which is going to be easier for the user, because it will largely be based on the task that they are required to perform and which way of presenting the information will suit their preferences better (or make the data easier to select), you can either:

  • set a default view and let it persist for all the questions, or
  • show the view that was last used by the user in a previous task or question, or
  • base it on the type of question or task

There is no correct answer but you should analyze the tasks and set a design strategy so you can test and verify it.

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