In Valid Logic

Endlessly expanding technology

An annoyance of mine with blogs...

One thing I've been noticing lately with a variety of blog platforms is the inconsistency of pagination labels when browsing posts.  What is next and what is previous?  Does next point to older posts or does it point to older posts?

They are pretty consistent as far as links to "previous" being on the left and links to "next" going on the right, but there isn't consistency as far as the direction they take you.

Case in point:

  • Look at my blog, running Community Server (but of course!).  Jump to the button and you will find the "Next page" button.  Click it, read some entries, and then reach the button of page two, and you will see previous and next.  Since you were reading some other entries (I hope!), you don't exactly remember the label of the link you pressed on the next page, but logically, what makes to you?  You are looking for older entries, but you view them as far as going back in time, so "next" to you means "the next page of ones you haven't seen yet" and previous means "the page of posts you saw before".
  • Look at this Wordpress blog (found randomly on  Scroll to the bottom and all you see is a "Previous entries" button.  You likely won't pay much attention to it though, it is the only option, you know where it goes, so you click it without comprehending its label.  You read some other posts and reach the bottom of page 2 and now you see "Previous entries" and "Next entries", basically the same labels as before, however completely opposite meanings.  In this case, "Next entries" goes to the page you already saw, and "Previous entries" goes to the page of posts you haven't seen, and are likely looking for.  Wordpress, or at least in the case of that particular skin (or a recurring theme in the common skins), is to view the label in the context of time rather than the context the reader would be looking at it.  "Next entries" goes to newer posts, but the reader may be thinking "the next page of posts I haven't seen yet".

Overall, I would have to side with how Community Server works in this case.  Draw a parallel over to how virtually all forum/message boards work.  Page 1 has the latest threads/posts, and the higher in page numbers you go, the older the posts.  Next is obviously "current page + 1".  Wordpress, in this case, has the latest posts on the first page, but previous means "current page + 1" and next means "current page - 1".

For blogs in particular, due to the inconsistency, it may be better to move to a more descriptive "older entries" and "newer entries" label, but for the most part, the developers should look at the page from the perspective of "what will the end-user be thinking when they run across this?"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

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