Back to ergonomy with an article from last alert from Jabob Nielson called : "Users' pagination preferences and View all" reviewing some pagination use cases and the opportunity of a "View all" feature and of course to save user's preference when you can to avoid poisoning his user experience.Some examples where pagination is fine like for Search Engine Result Pages ; You don"t consider your users to see all of the pages and you are able to promote the top results to him. Thus, they will limit them to the first pages, when not only the 1st ; to some extend, we could consider that it's useless to compute more than the n first pages..
Some examples where pagination is badly considered :
- When users may need to see all the content to make his choice and needds to embrace the whole selection to progress in his thinking. Ex for clothers where you want not to see only the 5 first shirts but the whole collection to make your choice between colors.
- Articles and other linear content flows should never be paginated as breaks are badly considered. Or at least you should provide both views (full & paginated).
View n items vs view all : author would recommend to have a default pagination value and a view all option than to have a "view 10/20/50/100 items". Moreover, the default pagination view and view all will simplify your form management as the choice would be easier thant if you propose multiple pagination steps. Easy filtering is better than complex one.
Of course, the "View all" for performance issue may be limited or being available only when your query is small enough (less than 100 items ?)
Last but not least, once your user chose a preference about pagination, be consistent with it during its session and later if possible so that he does not get lost or will get angry to refine each time his preferences.