Web designers are often asked the question “does scrolling or clicking provide a better experience for users?”. Scrolling provides the website content on just a single page. More recently it has become apparent that users consider clicking more of a chore and that they prefer scrolling. The proliferation of social media networks has had an influence on user behavior. Infinite scrolling is a new trend in website navigation that extends rapidly from social media networks to any type of website. It would seem that more web developers are trying to add infinite website scrolling navigation on their sites.
Advantages of Scrolling
This technique first started to be used on social media networks such as Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. Infinite scrolling keeps users constantly scrolling for the latest status updates, news, blogs, or posts. Among the advantages of scrolling is the fact that is much faster than clicking. Another advantage is the fact that scrolling provides a better user experience on touch screen smart devices. Information websites and ecommerce websites are starting to adopt this navigation technique as well. Infinite scrolling basically means endless scrolling navigation. This technique appends additional content dynamically at the bottom of a web page when the user reaches the end of the current content.
Infinite scrolling seems in theory like an effective and very simple design. Users have the possibility to scroll through all the web page content quickly. They get access to everything your website has to offer without the need to click on any link. However, even this web design technique seems so simple to implement in theory, yet many web developers fail when they are trying to implement it on their websites. This is not because of lack of skills or budget, but because not every type of website is appropriate for infinite website scrolling.
When Scrolling Works Best
This navigation technique works best for websites with large amounts of user generated content. This is mostly the case of social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, social media which is actually behind the first implementation of this trend in website navigation. In case of social media content it is not important for users to be able to later locate the content in the same location. Some social media networks such as LinkedIn uses infinite website scrolling but fail to make it clear for users where to find the same content. However, other social media networks such as Facebook solved this issue with their Wall.
Infinite scrolling uses sophisticated filters for dynamic content in order to allow users to sort the required feed to their specifications. An endless search would lead to a poor user experience because users are goal oriented. There are already ecommerce websites such as happysocks.com, which employ infinite scrolling for a better user experience on mobile devices. All websites with plenty of visual content or a large amount of user generated content are suitable for infinite scrolling.
Why Scrolling Is Preferable To Clicking
The fact that scrolling is inherently easier for users than clicking is demonstrated in analytics and new technology product development; nearly every new device being made with a glass screen is a scrolling machine. These facts show that not only is scrolling preferable to clicking, it is still superior to clicking in general even without the feature of infinite scrolling for an entire website.
Clicking has its place for helping users find the place where they want to start reading, but once they get there, then scrolling from page to page is the best method for keeping reader attention. Would you rather keep the reader as engaged as possible with your content or would you rather force several small decisions on the reader and possibly break their train of thought? This series of little mistakes could send warm or targeted leads away from your website. The lesson here is that scrolling is preferable because it is more automatic, as opposed to clicking, which is a decision.
This post was written by one of our awesome copywriters Matthew Abolins.