You must be familiar with infinite scrolling, right? It is the design strategy that keeps a page refreshing while you scroll down. Designed to replace pagination, infinite scrolling is regarded as friendlier to user experience as well as add more convenience.
Infinite scrolling has acquired significant popularity and you are bound to come across several one page websites where you need to go on scrolling to reach the bottom of the page.
Infinite scrolling is a type of web interaction design that allows the users to browse content through scrolling rather than by clicking on the page links. In this way, the new content is loaded automatically and readied before the users get to the point. In case of pagination, the content for each page begins loading after the page link is clicked on.
What’s your take on this? Do you think infinite scrolling is a great trend to follow or should you avoid it?
Well, the answer is very simple. This depends upon the goal and the type of the website being designed. As mentioned by Nielsen Norman, “Infinite Scrolling Is Not for Every Website”. Just like other web design trends, this too has its strengths and weaknesses. Before you decide to use infinite scrolling on your website, you need to find out whether you are reaping advantages of it.
Let’s go through some of the pros of infinite scrolling.
Perfect for Mobile Devices
We use several devices now. Thus, significance lies in ensuring commendable user experience on both the desktop as well as the mobile devices. As most of the mobile phones and tablets are made using touch technology, it’s time to optimize for them. It is hard for the users to tap on the links on the small screen of mobile devices. Infinite scrolling comes to help here.
Infinite scrolling is great for websites eager to hold on to users for significant periods of time. This technique is common for the websites with content or lists that are updated frequently. As the content goes on appearing, the users find themselves scrolling or interacting for longer periods. This technique allows the designers to present a wide variety of content in front of the users.
Everyone loves to see high quality and beautiful images. And what’s the best way to deliver image heavy content? Infinite scrolling.
Usage of infinite scrolling will allow the users enjoy a delightful experience without getting distracted by the requirement to find or click a link.
Now let’s check out on the cons of infinite scrolling.
Page Performance Speed
On the web, page loading speed is of prime value. Studies show that slow loading times result in people leaving the website and this also affects the conversion rate. The customers and website visitors don’t care much about how good your website looks or whether it comes with fancy graphics. All they care about is the page loading speed. That’s bad news for ones with infinite scrolling website.
Footers are Hard or Impossible to Use
The footers contain significant information for the website visitors like about, help or contact. The users may need these details. Quite unfortunately for the users, infinite scrolling makes it almost impossible to click on these links.
As soon as the users think that they have reached the end and can click on the links now, infinite scrolling will take over, revealing another layer of content. This creates quite a vicious cycle, seeing the footer, attempting to click on it and getting pushed further down. That’s not satisfying, right?
One of the most significant user experience principle states that the users need to know where exactly they are in the hierarchy of the website. This is necessary for website usability as well. In case of infinite scrolling, it is tough if not impossible to understand where exactly one is at a given point of time.
No Skipping Content
At times, the users feel like skipping content. We all have that habit. We often choose to skip the first hundred pages, going straight to the 101st page. This is impossible in infinite scrolling. The users cannot even imagine the amount of content present, let alone skip parts of it.
Tracking Analytics is Tough
Infinite scrolling has big challenges if you use analytics. It may not provide all the requisite information and some third party tools may be necessary here. It also causes a few search engine optimization challenges. There are several ways to overcome these issues but you need to take them into consideration.
It’s great to have lots of quality information on a website. But if there is infinite content loading every second, the users feel exhausted and out of control. Knowing that there is so much more information, the users are unable to stop till they get bored or psychologically daunted.
All technological advancement has some positive aspects if used properly. Infinite scrolling is engaging and beneficial for some websites and for others, it can disrupt the whole experience. Everything depends upon the goal of your website and user expectations. If it is a goal-oriented website with the users performing specific tasks and expecting results, infinite scrolling will not be helpful. But if you have plenty of content and each piece is of equal value to the users, infinite scrolling will be really effective.