Alphabetical Order is so over.

I’m not sure if you’d noticed but alphabetical order, the way we collate lists of items based on their first letter, is going the way of the dodo, digitally speaking at least.

Just have a think about what you now read, that isn’t it in alphabetical order:

  • on Facebook the list of Friends online is in order of relationship strength
  • on Meetup the list of group members is in in order of most recent activity
  • on Google the list of search results is in order of most relevance
  • on Amazon the list of shopping items is first in order of most recommended for you
  • on Rise the list is ordered by score
  • on Twitter the list of news items is in order of most recent

In fact even on Wikipedia – something you’d assume was pretty much alphabetical – finding an alphabetical list among the contents isn’t obvious.

What’s the reason for this destruction of alphabetical order – are we losing our way?


Not a bit of it. Alphabetical order is only really relevant to physical mediums like paper – when you have to manually search stuff yourself.  When you’ve got a search engine to do it for you you don’t need alphabetical order any more, the machine takes you directly to the page you wanted.

That means there’s a host of opportunity for new orders of things online.

What are you currently ordering alphabetically online that really you don’t need to? Or what are you not ordering that you could?

How about:

  • a member directory ordered by depth of community engagement
  • a list of items ordered by popularity
  • a list of blog posts ordered by how much they are read
  • a list of countries ordered by their UNDP Human Development Index
  • a staff directory listed by their contribution to the team

Food for thought. Have a great week.

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