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I have a large list of links which can be grouped based on first alphabet or some other criteria. The number of items in the list may be anywhere between 400-500. What is the best way to display such a list?

An existing example would be http://www.capterra.com/categories . Here list is grouped based on starting alphabets. But the categories which are in the bottom will get less attention. ( Here since it's categories it does not matter , but in case of items that need equal attention this might be an issue)

Is there a better way to display such large list so that majority of the content does not go below the fold?

  • Are your links categorized? – Swapnil Borkar Sep 22 '15 at 13:20
  • Initially they will be uncategorised. Then it can be categorised based on user inputs. – Sooraj Chandran Sep 22 '15 at 13:21
  • You'll need to either categorize or compromise on the font-size of the links to get them all noticed at once. Alphabetical is the best for now. You could also adapt sorting to sort accordingly to New/ Popular/ Random, if that's how your Users might like it. – Swapnil Borkar Sep 22 '15 at 13:35
  • If i categorise based on alphabets what are the best options ? – Sooraj Chandran Sep 22 '15 at 14:51
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Categorizing properly is tricky - it is a necessity to think from a user's perspective, and the categorization is always going to be a best guess. The trick of HCI is often about accommodating most of the people, rather than trying to get it right for all people.

Your example list has good and worse solutions that illustrate this point:

Good:

Search Bar

  • prominent
  • effective (gave good returns that weren't just first letter of first word)
  • instant
  • smooths over other list navigation inadequacies

Alphabetical Initial column

  • prominent
  • helps me locate myself in the list
  • communicates the chosen organization

Worse

No Anchor Jump

  • I must scroll to get to J, for example.
  • I must think up the thing I'm searching for in advance
  • With a long list, how can I navigate to a first letter or category from the start point?

Counterintuitive grouping

  • What will I (the user) expect the grouping to be?
  • First word (and thus, the alphabetical anchor) names the subset

Example:

When I used the search bar for security

As a user, I would think of the broad category first, so the more optimal choice would be to list the items as:

S>>

  • Security - Computer
  • Security - Network
  • Security - Physical
  • Security System Installer

So there needs to be a best-shot choice of list organization before applying it to an interface. Some questions to consider:

When it is a list of names, what is the anchor name: first name or last name? This may depend on the user culture and its customs.

What will be the most recalled word: the category or the item (ex: "bowl," "knife," "spoon," or "kitchen")?

Is this list typically organized in a system that we can map to (alphabetically, geographically, etc.)?

And on that last point, think of applying an already understood mental model to your list navigation. If it's car parts, the navigation could allow me to click on areas of a car where the part exists. If it is a list of names, I think of an address book.

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