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I was wondering why every pagination is starting by page "1".

Obvious example:
< More Recent - ... | 2 | 3 | 4 | ... - Older >

In this case, the first page is displaying the latest results.
It also means that the first page is always displaying different results.
It's also like if you had a book finishing by page 1.


Now, let's say that our page 1 represents our oldest entries.

Sample:
< More Recent - 125 | 124 | 123 | ... - Older >

In this case, the page 124 will always display the same results (unless we delete an item of course).
Page 1 will also always contain the first entries made in the database.

So my stupid question is:
why are we still using the page 1 for the more recent entries?

Reversing the order might be better for SEO, better for retrieving items based on the URL, and I might forget other good points.

Concerning the cons, I see a bad readability when we reach high numbers:
< More Recent - 1253 | 1252 | 1251 | ... - Older >

/discuss?

migrated from stackoverflow.com Sep 22 '14 at 9:52

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

  • Well, if the UX is bad, SEO and technological advantages will not help you. If you link to page 1 you will know for sure that you link your users to the newest content. However, in your second case, if you link them to page XX, you cannot know for sure that XX is the last page and therefore the newest content. – Kweamod Oct 1 '14 at 9:58
  • See also: Paging and Bookmarking ++ Paging: 1 to 42 or 42 back to 1 – unor May 9 '15 at 11:07
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As far as I understand, Page 1 on pagination is not always about Latest or oldest entries. Instead, it is about the most relevant entries to your query.

The results & orders will change based on your query & it's relevance. If you select to sort the result by Latest, then page 1 will hold the latest items. If you select to sort in ascending order, then page 1 will hold the oldest items.

Thus, page 1 in pagination simply means the most relevant items that matches your query irrespective of the order.

  • I think that your answer is simple and summarizes perfectly the meaning of what is (and therefore what is not) a pagination. With your definition, page 1 stands for "the start of what you are searching for". Seems perfect to me. However, I still think there should be a difference between the pages numbers displayed to the user and the URL that should remain static for SEO purpose (we want the content of page 430 to remain the same). Any opinions around SEO ? Or maybe should we forget paginations to adopt a "date pagination" that would just be a display of the month + day (+ hour) ? – Niflhel Oct 4 '14 at 23:14
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I would argue that 1 is a number that in this scenario, everyone knows that it's the first page which contains the most relevant data. The user can always go back to page 1 to go back to the start. If the page enumeration was to start on page 634 it would be harder cognitively for the user to navigate. The second page would be 633, which will put more strain on the mind of the user, than simply having 2 as the second page.

How the information is structured in these pages is, on the other hand, another discussion.

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It sounds like from your question that you are thinking about the pagination of a blog, as opposed to say, search results (with good reason).

One of the defining characteristics of a blog is that, as Wikipedia states it, posts are "typically displayed in reverse chronological order". The assumption is that a reader will want to see what's new and will go to the home page to find it. In this sense, a blog does not behave like a book.

Now if the home page is always changing with the most recent content, then why doesn't it also change page number instead of just the content? @HenrikEkblom has already alluded to a concept known as cognitive load.

Telling someone they are on page 3 gives them a more meaningful relative marker (I'm on the page with the third-most group of recent content) than page page 124 (out of how many?). You can include the last page number somewhere, but it's an additional bit of mental math for a user to do.

As a user goes deeper and deeper into the pagination of a blog, the same problem occurs, of course. But the nature of blogs is that users navigate to the most recent content most often, and will land on older content in other methods, such as a link from another site or more recent blog post, categorization, or a result from Google. (I don't have any hard evidence of this. Anyone?)

I say "blog", but truthfully the same principle applies to all social media, including this very Stack Exchange!

  • I find that "feature" to be annoying in most cases. When I'm trying to answer old questions on SE, or trying to catch up on a blog, etc, having to go backwards to go forwards is downright irritating. It bugs me that there's at least not an option to reverse the sort order. Even on Facebook, I'd rather see what I missed first and be able to scroll into the future content rather than the other way around. I don't care what the fancy research says, there should at least be an option for people like me that do go in order! – phyrfox Sep 23 '14 at 11:19
  • @phyrfox I think that in situations you're describing, pagination is not the best solution. Using the search tool to find a specific old question or navigation by year and month to pick up where you left off, would probably help you more. Invagination there is often a link to the last page, and you can choose to move backwards (or forwards chronologically) but this won't help you anymore and finding where you left off. What it sounds like you need is a "Show unread items" view that you could sort chronologically. – Tim FitzGerald Sep 23 '14 at 12:52
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I think the only place that comes to mind where the first page has the oldest content is an oldschool type forum where the first page contains the first posts and every page after that contains more and more recent posts. The reason for the numeration is that:

  1. It was expected that users would like to read threads in the order of posts.
  2. Content would move between pages if the order was reversed.

Lets say, there was a link to a good video on page m and someone is looking for that video, if the first page was the one with the most recent content then the video would be on the first page at first but after a while, it would move on to the second page and the third and so forth, ending up in an unknown page, always moving as long as the thread is active and that is very confusing to forum goers who may wish to have a link remain reliable.

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