I´m having a discussion regarding how our site filter should work.

The requirements has been the following:

  1. User enters the site and makes a search for eg. "jackets"
  2. Let´s say that we get 10 results and the result is presented.
  3. User clicks on the fourth result in the list.

For the article we have a bottom navigation "Back to result", "Previous" and "Next".

Now here is the tricky part: Where should the user end up when clicking "Previous" or "Next"?

My product owner want´s to keep the search result as a "list" and when user clicks that means the prev/next in the previous search result.

4 Answers 4


Regardless of which you choose, you need to be more clear with your button labelling. The buttons should either read:

Previous Result || Back to Search Results for XXX || Next Result

or it should read:

Previous Article || Next Article

You got here by searching for XXX. Return to search results.

Depending on the functionality you actually intend.

Either solution is valid, but creates additional requirements for the design. Firstly, a solid design heuristic is to avoid forcing users to recall information they entered earlier. Instead it's much better to remind them of their choice - hence why it's important to reiterate their search query if you're expecting them to want to navigate through the list of search results.

The other thing that's worth noting is that if you're navigating by search result you have to be consistent with the ordering on the search page - if there are multiple methods of ordering (relevance/recency/whatever) this has to be preserved in the horizontal navigation through the results.

The major drawback with the SERP-focused method is that it is complex and requires the user to be aware of context (even if you can remind them of the context). It may be more useful to your users to have horizontal navigation relate to the category of product they find themselves in (or perhaps other products in the same conceptual "space"). In addition, this may be functionality that your product owner wants but none of your users will find useful (or might even find confusing).

You need to perform user testing to discover whether this feature is necessary, and which solution to choose. Make sure you match your users' needs and mental models, not just what the product owner (or even you) thinks might be the best solution.


Because you have 'Back to Result' the previous and next should take you to the previous and next article. Henrik would be correct to say that you should more explicitly label the links, something like 'Next article' and 'Previous article' would ensure the user knows where they are going to end up. If there is a way to indicate what article they would be reading such as title text on the anchor or a pop-up when hovered, that would be even more ideal. Ensure the user always has a route back to the search results, by keeping the 'Back to search'.

  • +1 for "If there is a way to indicate what article they would be reading...that would be even more ideal". Far more useful than 'mystery' previous and next links.
    – Matt Obee
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 13:51

The user should be presented with the next item from the search result list (e.g. item nr 5) since that is the only list the user knows of... If I got your question right?

  • A valid point but the user is only presented with a list on the search results page. And as far as the user is concerned that is just a result.. not a list to navigate thru.. right?
    – Mackelito
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 12:49
  • Well, design the "next" and "previous" buttons so that they enhance the feeling of scrolling the result list. For example, make them vertical (up and down) to show that they are iterating the vertical list. Label them like "next result" or similar. Further - if the result is shown as an accordion control sliding out, you can have the next and previous result buttons outside the result view (for example, always floating top left somewhere on the site). This makes them work even though you haven't clicked a result... Just guessing here - hard without the entire spec :) Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 12:53

It is indeed a tricky one – I think especially the context of the expression "next" is diffictult:

When landing on a page with only one item, the "next" thing you would naturally want to do browsing through the other items would be to choose "next" – and at least I would expect to get item 5 then.

BUT often the list is sorted chronologically – so the older items would be item 5, 6, etc. and the proper naming would be "previous" for the older ones, and "next" for the "younger" ones.

This would all still be nice and fine – but when you begin with the first item, you would probably expect to click through to the next page but instead a previous would suit the chronological order of the list.

So my recommendation would be to try to avoid these terms instead

  • use arrows
  • use the item's title (as @Glo suggested)
  • ideally additionally use a thumbnail of the previous/next item

Btw: the problem with the naming is less distracting when the content you are browsing is more time based – like articles or events.


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