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A look at paging in the Web-based Android Market @ 21 May 2011

If you have an Android phone and haven't visited the Web-based Android Market, you should check it out. Just this morning, I was glancing over pages of the top free apps and noticed something about the pager (shown below the app results).

The formula is simple. If on a page x, x <= 5, the paging menu allows selection of the first x * 2 pages:

If on a page 5 <= x < 10, the user is always presented with a selection of the first 10 pages:

Then, for any page x >= 10, the user is presented with a list of pages from x -5 through x + 5 (inclusive – total of 11 pages):

This is a departure from the usual: most sites with such paging menus offer the user a constant number of pages for selection (surrounding the current page).

But what motivated Google's design? There are multiple possibilities:

  • User experience. Simple: Why show the user so many pages in the menu? The further a user delves into the pages, the further he/she will likely go, so show more pages as the user goes further into the results.

  • Querying. Perhaps the query used on the backend examines only enough data to know that there are a certain number of pages. Most users only visit the earliest pages, so why even consider the later results to determine how many pages there are?

Interesting design, Google.

Update (03 Jul 2011)

It appears that the Market is no longer using the page selector described in this post. Instead, the selector now offers the first 10 pages while on page x < 10, and pages x - 5 through x + 5 (inclusive; 11 total) thereafter until there are too few pages left to do so, at which point the last 11 pages are shown.