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Say we have a sortable table with peoples information in it (First Name, Last Name, Phone, Email, etc.) Initially this table is sorted by Last Name in ascending order (A-Z). Assume in this case we don't want to paginate the table it is just one list, lets say 100 entries.

You try to scroll through and find the name Mike Wazowski. Upon getting about 25% down the list you realize you should have just sorted by Last Name descending so that he'd be put much closer to the top. When you click the little order-by arrows next to Last Name and the order of the rows flips should the table:

  1. Scroll the user back to the top of table

  2. Leave the user scrolled to 25% down the table

My thought is if you reverse the order to have Z-A last names first it's because you want to find a name near the end of the list, so it'd be smart to scroll it back up so they can start near the end. However, if they wanted a name in the P-letter last names and scrolled 40% of the way down and hit descending order they may expect to be very near the P-letters not sent to the beginning in the Z's.

  • Where does the "order-by arrows next to Last Name" reside? If this can only be triggered at the top of the table, then there may be no need to initiate a scroll. – Daniel Brown Oct 7 '15 at 14:14
  • @DanielBrown They're on a fixed header on the table, so the table scrolls but the column headings are always visible. – DasBeasto Oct 7 '15 at 14:16
  • Ahh. I would argue that the table should scroll back to the top. If you always have a single page of limited results, there may not be a huge benefit in adding this feature. – Daniel Brown Oct 7 '15 at 14:22
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I think scrolling back to the top is correct.

The user's current position in the list is probably only meaningful with respect to the current sort order. They are not thinking "I want to be 25% of the way down in the newly sorted list". Generally, sorting the data coincides with looking through that data starting at one end or the other.

For what it's worth, I frequently use an SQL client that does not scroll to the top when I change sort order. I find it annoying that it does not do so, and sometimes I even get confused and forget that I am not looking at the beginning of the list at that point.

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