In this table there is an up and down button per row.

If the user press up for the second row, should the third one keep the selection or the selection should me changed to the first (previously second) row?

enter image description here

  • It depends on the context of the selected row. Should an order change be a selection change? What is the purpose of the selected row?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 16:13

5 Answers 5


The one that is originally selected should hold that selection. For example, if the user hits up twice the highlighted '30s' should be at the top of the list. The selection should be based on the items, not the row.

  • So, if the user hits the up next to "5s" the selection is hold in "30s"? Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 22:00
  • I'm not sure the answer is addressing the scenario in the question. Suppose 30s is the row that is selected. The user choose to use the arrow buttons on a non-selected row (e.g. 5s), should the selection be changed to the row the user has last interacted with (5s) or should it remain on the same row (30s).
    – nightning
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 22:39
  • @JuanjoConti No, I meant that the selection should always stay on what item is selected. So if the user hits the up next to '5s' then '5s' should be at the top of the list and be the currently selected item. Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 17:41

Typically a user will pick a row based on its contents, not on its current relative position (as in "I want the row labelled 'Bob' or '30s' I could care less if it's the 3rd or the 17th").

So in your example, you have two different interactions:

  • Ability to select a row to <perform some type of action on>
  • Ability to reorder rows

My initial feeling is that the act of reordering a row may select that row as the current selection; but this is highly dependent on the context and actions being performed (which you didn't say).

Here's a way to look at it: Instead of using up/down buttons, if you were to implement re-ordering using a drag-and-drop handle as pictured below, would the act of clicking on that handle (in order to move it) set the current selection to that row?

enter image description here

If yes, I'd say the act of clicking the up/down buttons should also change the selection to the row with the buttons clicked (based on the row data, not position), and if not, they shouldn't and the selection should remain on the row based on data, again, not position.


The shown interface satisfies the following user stories:

As a user I'd like to:

  • Select a row.
  • Promote a row.
  • Demote a row.

Note that it doesn't satisfy the following:

  • Reorder rows.
  • Move a row and select it.

The reason you don't allow reordering is that reordering involves moving things more than one row up and down.

Although it really depends what users really trying to achieve, I suspect that selecting something and reordering would, for most tasks at least, not involve coupling - they each action for a distinct task.


It's not stated in the question, but I would assume that whatever row is moved up or down in the list order still keeps, or tries to keep, its physical position on the screen, under the pointer/finger (while all other rows move down or up to accommodate it), so the button would be easy to use multiple times.

In that case, selecting the row that gets moved is not only simpler and more common, it also avoids the situation that the other row that is staying selected gets scrolled out of the visible portion of the list.

The only potential argument I could see for not updating the selection would be if it would be very disruptive to some concurrent activity, e.g. reordering a playlist while listening to the highlighted song.


Consider that users may miss an arrow. If an arrow does not also select the item then a miss on an arrow would select the item. So a missed arrow would select the item but an arrow hit would not select the item.

From the UI is is not clear how the row is selected. A click anywhere in the row (including the arrow) is just simpler to deal with (in my mind).

The question would be if you click the arrow on the selected row would the selection stay with the moved row or the position. I would keep the selection with the moved row.

Another problem is up on the top item. If the selected item is the last and arrow does not select then both the last arrow click item and selected item will not be on the same view.

Arrow cause selection and selected item always in view is the least confusing. In my mind.

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