Imagine you have a todo list, and you're currently editing the item marked **

Task 1
Task 2 **
Task 3

The interface provides a command to immediately delete the current item (not just clearing the contents, but removing the entire item).

Should the focus (which item you're now currently editing) jump to the previous task, or the next task?

Example of jumping to previous task:

Task 1          item 2 is deleted     Task 1 **
Task 2 **             ====>           Task 3 
Task 3

Example of jumping to next task:

Task 1          item 2 is deleted     Task 1 
Task 2 **             ====>           Task 3 **
Task 3

What should be considered when making this decision? Are there any case studies on this behavior?

  • How are tasks sorted?
    – Crissov
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 1:09
  • 1
    Suppose it's user-ordered for now.
    – Sherwin
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 1:17

4 Answers 4


I think either would be acceptable, but I would conduct user testing to see what your users think.

In general though while I'm developing lists, I like to it jump to the next task, so it would go with this example and have all the tasks shift upward. So it would be something like this example.

Task 1          item 2 is deleted     Task 1 
Task 2 **             ====>           Task 3 **
Task 3                                Task 4
Task 4                                

There's no research that I can see from my own quick Googling. The above answers are quite subjective also. If we are talking subjectively, I agree with @BDD - jumping to the next item is preferable considering it's user ordered.

But let's be objective. I would recommend:

  1. Look at your competitors. I've screen shotted "Reminders" from iOS for you. They keep the user on the same list item - presumably incase they have accidentally click on that item or need to edit it. This is a nice idea because I constantly check and uncheck my list items all the time. That reminds me - I need to speak to Michelle and Adam about a dress! (for my fiancee not me!)
  2. User Testing again like @BDD suggested. Once you have your assumed solution or hypothesis - test it! AB test it also to determine which gets the most conversions (assumed time spent on site)

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With a list from top to bottom, I prefer "next one". Because when you're working with task 2, in most case, you already done with task 1. Should you comeback to task 1 then do one more step to work with task 3? People always look ahead, when need to look behind, we turn our head back.


It shouldn't focus on any item.

The reason behind it, you wouldn't know which item he/she is going to tick next. Since to-do lists are not always ticked in consecutive order. Let the user choose which item to focus next himself/herself. Because auto focusing on the next or previous task might also lead to accidental ticks..

  • I don't think it's a good point to let the user choose. We talk about tasks and each of them can be a pain for the user. Maybe if you let him choose, it can increase his stress or he will procrastinate. By default, I think it's better to choose for the user and tell him "no matter what, you have to keep going! So, do the next task!"
    – JuClt
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 9:51
  • Keep going would only make sense if the process was linear..
    – Ades
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 10:07
  • But with a todo-list you want the apps to tend to linearity no? Finish the list is the goal that the user pursues ? Maybe I am wrong...
    – JuClt
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 10:27

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