I'm currently updating the sorting options for a list of items. At the moment each option can be selected as descending or ascending which really doesn't mean anything in most cases (or is very unclear) e.g. organise by popularity (asc) or popularity (desc). Is that most popular first or last? Who knows.

This is the list in question:

enter image description here

If you look at it for long enough you can probably figure out what each option does, or else you have to just try them all out until you find one that you're after.

My suggestion what be something more like:

Sort by

Popularity (most popular first) or Popularity (least popular first)

Rating (highest first) or Rating (lowest first)

But this makes the line items very long. Would it be unconventional just to write the phrase e.g.

Sort by

Most popular first or Least popular first

Highest rated first or Lowest rated first

Are there better options, is there some best practice that I could follow? I've found a real mixed bag of implementations across the web and they're often no better.

  • Why are you using vertical sort options?
    – Dipak
    May 11, 2016 at 10:52
  • it's a page listing feedback suggestions from users that can be voted up and down and commented on. I haven't designed it and there's not scope to redesign it at present, but I can make quick fixes and this seemed like possibly an easy win from a UX perspective
    – Chris
    May 11, 2016 at 10:54
  • By feedback suggestions do you mean predetermined prompts? Can you provide a screenshot or at least some actual examples of what is being sorted?
    – Monomeeth
    May 11, 2016 at 11:41
  • sure @Monomeeth this is the page in question: support.deskpro.com/en_GB/feedback/browse/active-1,2,3,8/…
    – Chris
    May 13, 2016 at 9:08

3 Answers 3


Don't repeat the labels - use the up and down icons along with it:

enter image description here

Assuming you are sorting some data - I will suggest you use a table with sort options as:

enter image description here

If you are not sorting the data loaded in table, you can always use just the header of the table with sorting options which will appear & disappear after clicking on some element.

enter image description here

These are the most familiar approaches for sorting data on web. Also, with these approaches you don't have to repeat the labels for ACS and DESC - the icons along with the labels do its job.

  • if I could change the layout to be more tabular this would be a really great answer but unfortunately I can only change the wording at the moment. The trouble with arrows in the context of my problem is that you don't know what up/down signify until you click them and wait for the page to reload, so you end up with the same problem as asc/desc. I'm trying to find more appropriate words/language to resolve the issue instead if possible :)
    – Chris
    May 11, 2016 at 11:28

Well, if you can only change wording, your options are a bit limited, so I'd suggest you clearly define the sorting method. Kind of what you suggest, like "Most Popular", "Highest Rated", "Most Commented" and such. And obviously including the opposite options as well.

Sadly, if you can't use any tool to do a choice, you need to include all available options, because even if you could use a mechanism to display orders by default (for example, let's say you put a label that reads Higher first) the very same time you choose to order by lower first your users won't be able to come back to the "higher first" options.

In short: make it as explicit as you can, this is a wrong implementation of sorting options, so if you can't change it, at least try to make it as clear as possible

  • Yeah it's definitely the wrong implementation for sorting, not sure why it was done like that and I'll try and fix it further down the line.
    – Chris
    May 13, 2016 at 9:10

I like the way IMDB does it:

enter image description here

Simple, clean and quite obvious (IMHO).

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