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Why Infinite Scrolling Isn't for Every Website

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The biggest trend in site design is infinite scrolling. Infinite scrolling is a technique where content loads continuously as the page scrolls. Nielsen and Design Modo did a great job outlining the purpose of this technique --

What it's good for: 

  • kill time (browsing/exploring) activities. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter
  • don't have to click to the next page
  • each update is on the same level of the hierarchy, offered linearly
  • each post is interesting to its fans
  • designs can be clean, more room for content, less room for distractions like pagination

Psychologically, infinite scrolling triggers excitement and willingness to scroll based on curiosity and expecting the new and the novel. McKinsey findings suggest that endless scrolling overloaded users with information,  they stopped using search. Etsy used infinite scrolling.  But the feature was removed when the company saw a drop in the # of clicks on favorites and members were not using the search function.

What it's NOT good for: 

  • goal-oriented tasks
  • e-commerce sites where users are looking for specific content or to compare prices/items
  • when offerings need filtering or content needs easy navigation tabs
  • you don't want your customers drowning in a sea of information.

When the footer disappears, it can be disorienting. Users may get lost or feel a never ending to do list. A user on designshack.net, Bill Scott says, " I used to be able to get to the end of the articles for a feed and feel like I had finished! Now with infinite content/scroll I am never done     :-) Now it is simply a question of where does it really make sense."