List of items, each has: Order, Category.

List can be sorted: by order, by category (actually two sort descriptors here: first by category, second by order). And grouped: none, by category.

When sorting is "by order" user can do drag-n-drop in list.

After close form, Order field overwrited with new item posistion.

Unclear exepected behavior when list sorted by order and grouped by category. Simple example:

1 a - cat1
2 x - cat2
3 b - cat1
4 y - cat2
5 c - cat1

enter image description here

  1. Allow to drag only between groups to change only group. Different drag action depending on current grouping.

  2. Allow to drag only inside one group, change order only for items in that group. Thats may be strange - after ungrouping (3) wisely ordered items became not close to each other.

    1 2 3
    x x c
    y y x
    a c a
    b a y
    c b b
  3. Mixed. Dragging to other group makes in two passes: first change group, second reorder items in that group.

Any reason against mixed approach? It there better solution?

Some thoughts in addition. If add option to grouping by readonly field (creation date), reordering beween groups is impossible at all.

  • Hi and welcome to UX.SE! You have posted an interesting question, but I'm afraid I don't really follow the problem correct. Could you update your question, with possible mockup or screen shots to really nail what your asking? The clearer the question is, the chance of getting a useful answer increases. Thank you! Jan 19, 2015 at 18:47
  • Does x represent the same object in the real world? (i.e. there aren't really 3 of them but you had to show it repeatedly due to grouping) -- I have a feeling that there is a better solution but would like to see a screenshot of your proposal before suggesting an alternative
    – DaveAlger
    Jan 19, 2015 at 20:03
  • 1
    @BennySkogberg Add mockup
    – smg
    Jan 20, 2015 at 4:47
  • Do you have an existing UI for this question @user3009578? If yes, would go good if you can post the screenshot.
    – Ades
    Jan 20, 2015 at 7:02
  • Thanks for putting in the diagram. Can I ask under what circumstances would a user use the grouped view as oppose to the non-grouped view?
    – nightning
    Jan 20, 2015 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


As a user using "drag and drop" to reorder items, I couldn't care less how the system does it. Your "Mixed" approach of two passes if it's required should happen behind the scene and not force the user to take 2 actions.

Suppose I have a list like this.

  a - cat1
  b - cat1
  c - cat1
  x - cat2
  y - cat2
  z - cat2

I now want to move item z to the top above a, which assumes I'm putting it into cat1.

  z - cat1
  a - cat1
  b - cat1
  c - cat1
  x - cat2
  y - cat2

I would rather directly drag z into place. To have to drop it in the general vicinity of cat1, see the item go into a position I don't want and have to drag and drop it again can be extremely frustrating. That's assuming I understand you are making this into a 2 step process. I may instead think you're not allowing me to order within a group and give up.

Regarding to your concern about "unexpected ordering" when user switches sort views. Consider doing a quick and dirty hallway test to see if people actually do get surprised when they switch views. I have a hunch your users don't switch views enough to even notice or care.

If from testing this is in fact a problem, consider putting in a read-only "rank" column so they can tell where items fall on the flat "order-only" list.

  • "Two passes" just describe logic, of course user will see item right in place. If that mixed is are not too complicated at all.
    – smg
    Jan 20, 2015 at 4:51
  • @user3009578 as I mentioned, a user doesn't care how the system does the job. Just that if I want an item to be moved to where I want, the system does it for me. Make sure the user can clearly see the Category headings in your grouped view and it's pretty obvious to understand.
    – nightning
    Jan 20, 2015 at 17:07

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.