I have an eshop that has in the menu a list of manufacturers available on the website. The default order for them is alphabetical, but due to marketing reasons the owner asked that several manufacturer should be first in the list.

For me this is a little confusing, having found my self searching for a manufacturer in the place it should be in alphabetical order only to find it at the top after some time.

What do you guys think, is this confusing or is it just me.

  • What are you asking? Your current phrasing sort of asks for yes/no answers, which isn't really what this site is about. We can give you our opinions, but will that affect your decision? What kind of data are you looking for?
    – Rahul
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 11:33

4 Answers 4


That's a timely question. Jakob Nielsen just wrote that alphabetical sorting must (mostly) die. He provides guidelines for when you should use alphabetical sorting (the names are known and unambiguous) and when you should avoid it (the names aren't known or some other inherent logic would work better).

If alphabetical makes sense for the most part, but the owner wants to feature a few manufacturers, you might find answers in the question about putting USA at the top of a country list. In particular, you might consider listing the featured manufacturers both at the top and alphabetically.


Go with what Google always do, separate them. Maybe like a "recommended" sign right beside it, the item/product should be still be listed on the main list.


I'd prefer an ordered list myself. What you could advise your customer could be something like X radio buttons with certain "prefered" manufacturers and the last radio button with the select where you have all your manufacturers listet but in alphabetical order. with that you would have both; an ordered select list AND the prefered manufacturers in a special better to view position.


Along the lines of @vener 's answer: display these manufacturers twice. Once on top the list (because they payed for that) and once in their natural alphabetic position (because there you searched for them). Be sure to clearly distinguish the to parts of the list.

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