cPanel® Blog

Motherboards are My Shoes

We can break down all of the web traffic into one of two categories. These categories have nothing to do with the device we choose to access the web: no it’s something much more instinctual than that. For all of our achievements, at the end of the day we are still nothing more than hunters and gatherers.

When we are in ‘gatherer’ mode, we as users ‘know’ what we want…we just don’t know ‘what’ we want. During one user testing session, I had the pleasure of watching a woman literally go through 15 pages of 100-results-per-page search results while looking for a ‘simple black pump’. To be honest, I was about to snap; result number 1 did not look any different to me than result 655, which is the shoe she finally decided on. Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking…“That is a typical shopping experience with a noob.” However, as my good friend and fellow cPanel UI guy Kye pointed out:

Motherboards are my shoes, I can look at pages and pages of motherboards.”

So, we all have gatherer tendencies; it’s just a matter of finding the right shoe or motherboard.

The ‘hunter’ mode is much more simple. When we are in hunter mode, we know precisely what we want and we want it as quickly and efficiently as possible. There is no browsing, window shopping, etc.

Pagination Problemations

Pagination options, as they currently exist online, only serve the gatherer in each of us. Jeff Atwood points out in his “The End of Pagination” blog post

Once you have thousands of items, you don’t have a pagination problem. You have a search and filtering problem.”

Let’s take an honest look at one of the most familiar pagination examples we all have seen on Google. Search engine arguments aside, let’s say Google has resolved the search and filtering problem. Now, a search for ‘WebHost’ yields 14,700,000 results on 10+ pages of results.

google-pagination
google-pagination example

It’s clear that Frodo and Sam are hidden from Sauron somewhere in pages 2-10. According to the numbers, the first three links on page 1 get nearly 60% of all clicks.  The 10th result on page 1 gets 2.2.% of the clicks, and the 20th gets 1.4%… guess who’s going to page 2? You are more likely to find a missing group of Navy planes off the coast of Florida than anything on those other pages. (A Bermuda triangle reference for those playing the home game.)

So if Google has the search / filter issue resolved and still shows you 10+ pages of results, how do we go about accommodating the hunter in us? Are those first 3 really our target? 60% of us seem to think so. The other 40% of us need to quickly sift through the remaining pages to find our answer.

In my last post Tell them about the Twinkie, I mentioned the The Streetlight Effect and how we tend to look for solutions to problems where it’s easiest to look, not necessarily where we should be looking. Pagination falls into this area.

Now cPanel software users will undoubtedly almost alway be in hunter mode when using any of the tables and search / filters.  Even the best filters can still only get you so close when you’re looking for the needle in the haystack.

I’m going to share an idea that I have been toying with lately. Our current pagination tool shows you the first page, and the last page with quick jumps to either:

Pagination Example no.1
Pagination Example no.1

My idea is to replace the truncated page list with a ‘page jump’ field where the user enters a page number between their total pages, and hits enter:

Pagination Jump example
Pagination Jump example

Think about  when you read a book and you want to jump ahead; do you thumb page by page until you get to page 245? No, more than likely, you do the same thing I do: you crack open the book (or “page jump” – see what I did there?) to what looks like page 200 or so, and then adjust accordingly.

So let’s break it down a bit more using our two examples above. In the standard pagination example I am at least 2 clicks away from any of the pages between 7 and 14… which is almost half of the results. To get to page 12 you would either need to click the ‘next page’ button 6 more times, or jump to page 15, and then click page 12. This is all well and good for just browsing results, but again, we’re trying to satisfy the hunter in us. The ‘page jump’ technique that I am proposing allows the user to ‘jump’ to the middle of  the pagination results with a quick entry and a click. I know what you’re saying: “You just chose page 12 to prove your point about your suggestion for pagination”. So, let’s go back and say we want to go to page 3. In standard pagination, page 3 is just a click away. In my ‘page-jump’ version, it’s still an entry field, and click away, so this is only a little more effort.

Now if you’ve stuck with me for this long in this article, you may or may not remember that I by no means profess that this ‘page-jump’ pagination is the end-all, be-all solution. On the contrary, right now it’s merely a working theory of mine. This is me, looking outside of the comfort of the streetlight for a solution to a problem. I personally think we as UI/UX people can do a lot better than what we currently have, and this is one way we may be able to accomplish that goal.

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  • thanks for your sharing, this information is useful to me

  • Scott Neader

    One of the most frustrating things about cPanel, in my opinion, is how paging is forced upon us, even when it is not warranted. Not everything has to be paged, especially 10 per page. Are more than 10 forwarders really that hard to handle, requiring paging, if you have 20 or even 100? Listing 20 forwarders on a page doesn’t even fill half my monitor. Sure, you can change it to 25 or 100, but make one change and BOOM you are back to 10 again. It does not save your preference. Lots of wasted clicks due to this needless enforcement of paging. I hope in a future version of cPanel, it will remember our “preference”. If I want 100 per page, then remember that. Thanks for listening. 🙂

    • James Thompson

      Scott, Very good point, and thanks for sharing your feedback.

      We actually just recently had this conversation. I cannot promise the “remember your settings” just yet, but we can probably do something about removing that initial small cap relatively soon.

      • Tom Green

        We are looking to implement something like the system we had in Enkompass, where on each page, we save your last choice for things like page size. We are considering also adding the ability to have a new common default for page size so you can set your preferences in one place.