"Unless you can be absolutely sure that users will know the exact terms in your list, alphabetical order is just random order."
According to Jared Spool, alphabetized lists work for people's name, states, cities, car models, and teams. But they fall apart for things where users don't know the exact wording. Users must resort to the same behavior they need when links are randomly ordered. They must scan every link to make sure they can see what is relevant and what isn't.
Instead, we should use a divide-and-conquer approach by categorizing the items. Once broken up into small groups, it doesn't matter what the order of the links are.
- Alphabetized Links are Random Links
- February 12, 2006
See also: Information architecture (15) Sitemaps (2) Links (19) Navigation (63) Tips and guidelines (95)