Mixed lists

As information architects, we always have loads of ways available to view information in lists. Show the latest, the most popular, the one with the latest comment, everything of one particular type, etc… We don’t always know which way users want to look at the information, so the solution is usually to offer different views of the same information. Choose the most likely popular default view, and users can choose other views as they like.

The problem with that approach is that we’re expecting users to switch between views, and to understand what the various views mean. And that’s often too much to ask – in practice, many users stick with the default view, and whatever that shows or, importantly, hides.

So there’s a new tendency I’ve noticed the past few years to mix multiple views into 1 definitive view, a mixed list. The algorithm that determines what goes in there can be more complex, it can show multiple types of information, etc.

Google’s evolution is a good example. At first, they just showed different options to see their search results: see results in news, in images, on the web, etc…

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The "tabs" were there for a few years, but are gone now, as they move to 1 definitive serp, they call it universal search.

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The definitive search result page shows thumbnails of pictures, movies, blog results and other elements, all mixed on 1 page. The seem to be experimenting a lot with this and they think it’s successful. Here’s a good example, showing images, videos, shopping etc… on 1 page.

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Examples are everywhere, study Facebook for a good example. They also mix content types and stuff like crazy to make their mixed lists more useful:

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More thoughts/examples on mixed lists?

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2 thoughts on “Mixed lists

  1. Actually, Facebooks list is even more complex.
    The three top items (latest status updates) are evolving faster than the items below. It took me a while to figure that out.

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