Would you expect when making selections across multiple "pages" in a grid or other list style control that it would remember your selections? Would you expect it to forget your selections the moment you page to the next set of data?

Along the same lines, if said control did remember user selections across pages would you expect actions performed against selected items to apply only to those currently in view? Or would you expect it to be applied to all items? Maybe this is a case-specific problem but I'm just interested in hearing the community's thoughts.

  • Could you explain a bit more? Perhaps what the application does or a use case. Thanks.
    – jonshariat
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 16:26
  • 1
    It's just a general question, I posed it ambiguously on purpose. A sample case might be a grid of contact records, where actions would be things like send email, delete, edit, etc.
    – GotDibbs
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 16:58

3 Answers 3


Would I expect it? No.

Programmers are inherently lazy and this the kind of functionality that few would put the time and effort into making work correctly.

Would I, as a user, appreciate this functionality and you making me aware of it once I made my first selection? Absolutely.

vBulletin (extremely popular forum software) provides this when you're moderating across multiple pages of posts and it's magnificent.

In implementing this, I would strongly suggest that you pop a simple modal or notification letting your user know that you have implemented this functionality.

Good luck!

  • 2
    I can't help but feel offended for the programmers :) (though I am not one). People in general are inherently lazy. Commented May 4, 2011 at 4:10

This is a problem as old as paging controls and is one of the primary reasons that I often argue to remove paging controls entirely from designs. The truth is, I've had users sit down and make 4 selections across two pages, then told them to click Export or Print or Delete and ask them what happened. About half of them report that all 4 items were Exported, Printed, or Deleted. Another half report that only the items on the current page were affected.

Paging controls are, for the most part, not there to help the user, except when there are "bottomless lists" like Google's search results or Facebook's Wall. In both these cases, we see controls that say "Show me more", rather than Paging Controls.

But taking a list of 1,000 items and serving the user the first 25 and then asking him to actually work with this list is just frustrating. Instead, consider going ahead and loading all the data, offering a progress bar if you need to.


Our company has faced similar problems with paginated grids. We have found that most users will expect selections to persist as you navigation between pages, and that they expect any actions to apply to all of the items selected. Interestingly however, if we have a checkbox in the header of the checkbox column, most users only expect it to select the items on the current page. I can't really explain that one.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.