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Allow users to break up long lists of items into separate pages.  They should be able to decide if they want paging and how many per page.

Sakai has page navigation now -- "List Navigator UI Component" in the Sakai style guide.  The default for how many items to show on a page varies.  How many makes sense depends on context, how many total items, what type of items, etc.  The idea here is to make this navigator remember the users last setting (across sessions).  That way they set if for what makes sense given the current situation and it is persistent.  As things change for them they simply change the setting to meet current needs and again it's persistent until they need to change it again.  Currently this is a "one size fits all" default and many users have to change it every time they visit a particular page.

Problems with current Sakai widget 

  • Often users change this setting every time they visit a particular page/tool.  As explained above, the default setting for how many to show on a page doesn't always make sense.
  • Related to above, widget doesn't remember users setting from previous session.
  • Widget takes up significant (extremely valuable) real estate at top of page.
  • Current widget is displayed even if the number of items is less than is required for paging (i.e. there are 9 items listed and paging kicks in by default after 10).

Use Cases / Requirements for new component

  • User can choose to break up long lists of information into several pages.
  • Show users how many there are and where they are in the list (i.e. viewing 10 - 20 or 2,356)
  • Allow users to "show all". 
  • Allow users to decide how many to show on each page.  The best option will depend on a variety of dynamic circumstances (how many in list, what they are doing with the items, whether they need to see the items globally...)
  • Remember users last setting (from previous session).  This should be specific to the instance of the paginator.
  • Allow users to "jump to" a certain set of records (e.g. students with a last name starting with "G")
  • Provide other methods of filtering large sets of records into smaller sub-sets (e.g. associated filter)


References / Competitive Analysis

NOTE:   Many of the below are for search navigation so should used strictly as a reference for more robust web application pages where users need to actually do something with the items in a list (other than just choose one).

Item Navigation (long list of items users may need to do something with) 

  • Sakai's "List Navigator UI Component" in style guide & Item Pagination design pattern in the Sakai Design Pattern Library
  • "Item Pagination" - Yahoo design pattern,
  • gmail paging
  • - no paging is just a long scrolling list
  • In this case we are probably giving the user the wrong thing when we think of giving them a list that big.  If they are looking for something
    in a huge list, things like a user or site or email, probably the first step should be to offer them a way to search or filter the list to help
    them narrow things down and find what they need, without having to wait for whole thing to load up.  I suppose there might be some cases where
    they do want a whole long list, maybe to print the enrollment list for their course, but then paging can make that more difficult as well. - Peter Knoop

Search Navigation

Informal User Survey

Since I (Erin) don't have easy access to Sakai users, I surveyed my friends to get some perspective on paging other than my own. This may be a skewed view from a more tech-savvy set of users who aren't familiar with Sakai at all (but are with web in general and paging specifically). With that said, here are my findings.

In summary, many users finds it bothersome to click through multiple pages to view a list of items. Users will often set the number of items per page to the maximum to see more items at once. In a list where newer items gets added to the top of the list (email inbox, announcement pages, etc.) users tend to care less about the number if items displayed per page, because they are typically only concerned with the new items, which are all shown in one page. In a list such as the search results, where users are looking for particular items, more items per page is preferred. In an alphabetically ordered list (roster, address book, etc.), allow filtering (narrowing down the list as user types in more characters), unless paging by alphabet can be provided (problematic when the user re-sorts with a different column).

•    [Referring to their email inbox] "I think by default it was 25 or something.... and I think that's too little."
•    "I don't like having to scroll thru multiple pages ever...I like seeing everything at once"
•    "I set it to whatever's the maximum."
•    "I leave it at the default."
•    "Have u used the Google Reader? RSS. I like that. Loads more dynamically as you scroll down."
•    "I put eBay to the max of 200. It is by default 50 and I hated it. GMail I do not care about the size of 50 because I do not get more then 50 emails a day and they are sorted by most recent first. On eBay there are more then 50 new listings each day."
•    "I personally prefer long list on one page to multiple pages."

Design Suggestions

•    If all pages available are shown as links (e.g. 1   2   3), there is no need for "first page" ( |< ) or "last page" ( >| ) options.
•    Allow users to readily change the number of items per page as the preferred number varies per user per list
•    When alphabets are listed as page numbers and the items corresponding to a particular alphabet is displayed on the page (e.g. students with names starting with "A" are displayed on page A), there is little need for the user to set the number of items to be displayed per page. i.e. It should display all items with the alphabet on one page.
•    If the total number of items is under 50, it is reasonable to display all items in one page, and not display the paging widget at all.
•    If the total number of items is between 50 - 200, display paging widget with "Display all" option
•    If the page updates periodically (e.g. daily, bi-weekly), only one or two items are added each time, and users are generally concerned with the new items only, then it is okay to set a reasonable default 

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