Infinite scrolling of pages: does it help or harm?

When it comes to online marketing or web design, it is extremely important to be the initiator of successful ideas and to shape trends in your own field. Today we will focus on one of these trends – endless scrolling (scrolling) of pages on the site: what opportunities does it represent for business? what is the best way to implement and when should this feature be dropped? The material was written based on the translation of an article about Infinite Scrolling by SpeckyBoy.

The main sections of the article:

The millennials are known for their habit of skimming websites in seconds, deciding whether to stay or leave. Competing projects need to know exactly how to gather and retain audiences, or they risk being left behind. In an effort to attract the attention of the masses, for example, using the parallax effect, many have decided to also implement infinite scrolling. This approach has been actively used over the past several years, and examples of very popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram only confirm its effectiveness.

However, the fact that endless scrolling is suitable for these sites does not mean that it will work for your web resource as well. The trick is quite expedient when performing certain tasks, but on some projects, on the contrary, it can interfere with the achievement of goals.

What is infinite scrolling?

Since this term can be used to refer to various features and functionality, in this case we mean endless scrolling with automatic loading of content as the user scrolls down the page… It seems that the page is endless and the user can scroll as much as he wants.

Infinite scrolling possibilities

Infinite scrolling works best with certain types of content. For example, it is ideal for low engagement sites like Twitter. Since this web resource is filled with short blocks of text, visitors quickly scroll through the content.

More often than not, infinite scrolling works well with a lot of easy-to-read content. If it suits your company’s goals, then this feature is fine for you too.

Positive characteristics of the method:

  • User retention… This is one of the main features of infinite scrolling, plus it allows you to quickly engage visitors. In addition, it also motivates users to stay on the page as they can scroll through the content endlessly by scrolling down.
  • Easy navigation / usability… Scrolling is an easy to understand and versatile method that requires little effort to complete. It immediately gives visitors access to the basic information of the site.
  • Suitable for viewing illustrated materials, as well as for mobile users… Infinite scrolling is a good way to ensure that many simple visuals are viewed. Also works well for mobile devices where one-finger scrolling is considered the best navigation method.

This is why this approach is great for Instagram, whose main goal is to quickly present a series of photos. There is no need to linger on each image for a long time, plus most of the service’s visitors use mobile devices.

Reasons to avoid infinite scrolling

Despite the advantages, it is best for owners of some types of web projects to refuse to implement such a mechanism altogether:

  • Commercial sites… They make it easy to search for and purchase products that match certain characteristics. Sales web resources should provide simple and accurate navigation tools. If the main goal of your company is sales, it is not recommended to use endless scrolling. Design a simple, user-friendly design with disabilities so consumers can concentrate on buying.

Selling site and scrolling

  • Any sites that search for specific products or services… When users enter an infinite scrolling project, they are confronted with many options. This is not always suitable for those with specific goals. Too many options are likely to make the visitor leave the web resource.
  • Sites with long-term content… Magazines and web sites where articles require in-depth study will not benefit from infinite scrolling. Continuously loading content can seem overwhelming from a usability standpoint and will cause users to leave the site rather than continue reading.
  • Difficulty of navigation when re-searching for specific information… One of the main reasons not to switch to this function is the difficulty of re-searching for specific information. This can be negatively reflected in commercial niches. So, for example, it is almost impossible to make a bookmark due to infinite scrolling. Many Pinterest users faced a similar problem when, after going back to the news feed, they could not find the desired post that was present on the page just a few seconds ago.
  • Impact on search engine optimization. One of the most discussed issues in the topic is the negative impact on SEO optimization. Infinite scrolling pages are essentially a single page, and therefore the amount of content available for search results is reduced. Moreover, only one meta-description will be entered, and as a result, the possibility of assigning relevant information about your brainchild is excluded. The situation is similar in Landing Pages, but SEO is not so important to them.
  • Convenience of the user interface… Some of the site’s features are simply incompatible with infinite scrolling. For example, if you have footnotes and headers and footers. People will scroll through the page looking for footnotes, but they won’t be able to get to them. As a result, most likely, they will not remain on your web resource. It will also be difficult for them to get to the footer and the information in it.
  • Lack of choice… Currently, this kind of scrolling is not focused on the preferences of visitors, as they do not have a content selection option. Even if the user wants to skip some information blocks, he will not be able to do so. This is frustrating for those who prefer to view more limited texts.

Endless scrolling

By the way, about commercial sites. The tips above work well if you need to sell one or more items. In the case of a large online store, placing all the information on one page is unlikely to work. You can combine infinite scrolling with other navigation options.

Endless scrolling in the online store

That is, in the example above, if you wish, you can load products by clicking or use the navigation. The presence of the menu allows to partially solve the problems with the search for specific products and the inability to exclude certain information.

Implementation tips

If you’ve made the decision to add infinite scrolling to your website, the following methods can improve your user experience:

  • Develop a contingency plan… Since this function is implemented using JavaScript, some people will not be able to access scrolling. Developers should anticipate this situation and add pagination.
  • Maintain navigation visibility… If visitors have to scroll through a never-ending stream of articles to go back to the previous page, they most likely won’t.
  • Don’t use the scrollbar… Some developers advise against combining endless scrolling with a scroll bar showing users the amount of information remaining on the page. This misleads them into thinking that the article is near completion while content continues to be added.
  • Provide loading display. If visitors are stumped while browsing the supposedly endless stream of data, it is unpleasant. Be sure to add a download icon to indicate that the corresponding process is running.

Total

Similar to other web design trends, endless page scrolling can have both positive and negative results. It all depends on your goals and the type of project. Owners of sales-oriented websites, as well as web resources, the content of which requires detailed study, should carefully consider before implementing such a trick. At a minimum, add alternative navigation options. Remember that indiscriminate use of this trend can lead to the loss of visitors.

For additions and thoughts on the topic, write below.

Author: Clark Douglas

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