The concept of the rider’s list is flawed and this band-aide suggestion doesn’t help solve the real issue.
Multi-players online games don’t try to maintain an accurate list of people around you in real-time that you have to then try to click on to interact with. You actually click on the other players, not some name in a list. Zwift should do the same. So, when you are in a large group, it’s not a frustrating game of whack-a-mole to try to click on someone. When you are outside of a group and perhaps want to know who is just up the road ahead of you, you click on that person, not a name in the list.
A list should be separate and hidden by default. Perhaps accessed a hot-key or maybe mousing to the right-hand side of the screen. The list should show who is online and who is nearby. You should be able to search the list. The riders should also be placed on some kind of map so you can see where they actually are. You should be able to interact with the riders more than just enabling “Fan View”. You should be able to message them directly and see their profile.
The challenge with this is how to provide the same or similar information with the mobile app because not everyone has access to a keyboard and mouse while Zwifting. An imperfect solution is to still provide a rider’s list but to reduce the update frequency of the order to ease user frustration. The more riders around you, the slower the list is updated. This will make the list more manageable while riding in a group. When there are only a few riders around you, the list may be updated more frequently so you can more reliably know who is either just up the road from you or who you just passed. The list should be always limited to a set number of riders around you. This could be as few as 10 or 20. A search feature should be added so you can search for anyone that is currently online and riding.
Zwift should not try to provide the exact same feature/capability in both the main game and the mobile app. Zwift should use the best interface for each device. This is why the mobile app and the main game should be different with regards to the concept of a riders list. It hardly makes sense to cripple the main game by trying to provide equal functionality and the interface in both the main game and the mobile app. The idea should be to use the best tool/approach for the individual situation.
When in race mode or viewing a race, the order of riders is the highest priority. This is especially true for the leaders of a race. Again, the idea of the number of riders should be considered when updating the order of the list. The more riders in close proximity to one another, the less frequently the list is updated. Thus, a small group of leaders or chasers is updated more frequently than a larger group of riders that are in the main peloton. This information is more complex and requires an entirely different interface than the current rider’s list. This is why race mode is special and should be handled differently.