Monish reddy

Digital Marketer who loves a great story and is a keen follower of technology

Stop Infinite Scrolling on Your Website - Now!

Do people love infinite scrolling on the websites they visit or are they
fine with clicking on ‘Read more’ or ‘View more?’ Infinite scrolling eliminates
the need for pagination which is the process of separating digital content into different pages. Here’s my view on infinite scrolling and why it is a recipe for disaster.
Infinite scrolling is equal to stress for some users. For anyone who is trying to view the footer tabs, an endless scrolling activity can not only be irritating but might be stressful too. 
*Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

You know what a scroll is, right? It is a roll of paper. It was used centuries ago when there was a lot of content. Thankfully, computers have made it easy to wade through large pieces of content, thanks to pagination. A scroll bar on the right is fine too but an infinite scroll doesn’t tell you when it will stop. 
If you are building your website and a developer suggests using infinite scrolling because of some strange fetish, here are 10 reasons to dissuade you from doing so, for technical, aesthetic and functional reasons:-
#1 Poor performance issues
With infinite scrolling, you will be loading more and more content into
memory. This directly interferes with rendering since it makes the browser to do much more work than it usually does to bring up a page. The client-side needs to hear constantly for scroll-related calls thus affecting the
performance. While this is fixable, it requires a lot of work that can be
better put in for something else. 
#2 Footer is drowned
Finding the footer can be a competition of sorts in a website with
infinite scrolling. The winner of this competition gets to see a page with
Pagination.
What say? Sounds ridiculous, right. 
Here is a piece of information that might stump you. Users love footers.
Website visitors have been taught that a footer is placed at the bottom with information such as contact, about us, privacy policy and so on. The only other method is using a sticky footer if infinite scrolling is implemented but choosing not to use infinite scrolling will go a long way in pleasing the users. 
#3 Difficult to implement analytics
You cannot use Google Analytics or any other analytics tool if you are
going to use infinite scrolling on your website. To track a page, you need to
code your own analytics application. Also, this will add to the cost for the
implementation maintenance.
As if analytics wasn’t the problem alone, here is another trouble associated with infinite scrolling. Using infinite scrolling causes serious Search Engine Optimization challenges. While there are ways to tackle this SEO issue, why let it happen in the first place? 
#4 Navigation is muddled
Navigation is a pivotal part of the website as a user’s experience includes
getting around the website. Infinite scrolling disrupts the usual flow of
navigation and not in a good way. Imagine trying to bookmark an item that is on the lower rung of the page? You can’t. The entire page has to be bookmarked, the user has to climb down for a lot of time to finally arrive at the page. 
#5 Scrollbar is hard to use
The scrollbar is as good as being designated to the bin if there is infinite scrolling enabled on the website. With infinite scrolling, even a light movement of the scroll can result in a lot of space being disturbed. It
also plays a trick on the mind, the visitor scrolls down to find the footer or
the end of the page but the page is inadvertently extended with more items loaded on the page. You are not entirely being transparent with your visitors when you do this.
*Photo by True Agency on Unsplash
#6 It is hard to use
We are using our biggest reason to not employ infinite scrolling as the
6th point for no reason. What is it? Infinite scrolling is simply hard to
use.  
Design is about understanding the needs of the user and giving them
something that complements their thinking. Infinite scrolling confuses them to no end and it doesn’t help the user in any way. They are at tenterhooks on the next thing they will see. 
Here are some of the questions that they will ask themselves when using infinite scrolling:
  • When will this end?
  • How many results do they have?
  • How much time will it take for me to traverse through their entire results?
  • Am I searching for them properly?
In most websites, these questions are not asked because the user is
shown a bunch of page numbers that they can use. There is clarity regarding the contents of the website. It will help them make informed decisions since they can gauge the amount of time they need to spend on the website. 
Pages that are smaller are easier to complete, keeps you more focused
and it has none of the negative experiences that infinite scrolling brings in.
In fact, there is no research which says that people don’t like to click on
links to visit a new page to go through the rest of the content. So why
infinite scrolling in the first place? 
#7 Disorients users
What we see on the web is a reflection of the way we live our lives.
Anything infinite is contradictory to what we have seen or heard. With infinite scrolling, there is so much information floating around vertically that it is impossible to gauge how much is there. It makes mere mortals like us uncomfortable as it keeps flowing with no end in sight. 
It is also difficult for users to go back to an item that they previously saw. With Pagination, you at least know how you can map the pages based on the numbering. When users scroll down to the end only to realize that there is more content coming their way, it confuses and exasperates them. 
#8 No skipping allowed
With Pagination, you can choose to skip certain pages to go to a
different page many steps behind or ahead in the website. With infinite
scrolling, you cannot do that as it is a single stream of content that looks
endless. As we mentioned in the previous point, not only is skipping pages
impossible, even bookmarking a page is meaningless with infinite
scrolling. 
#9 No bookmarking
Most of us do not read the entire content at times as we might be busy
doing something else. This is when we bookmark the page so that we can later visit it and consume the content. You can’t bookmark so that you can consume a particular piece of content if you are on a site which has infinite scrolling enabled. Sure, you can bookmark, but you have to make do with the entire page and not just a specific piece of content when you do so on a web page enabled with infinite scrolling. This is extremely cumbersome, frustrating and impractical for the average website user. 
#10 Terrible user experience
If your website visitor wants to find something specific, it is impossible to do so with infinite scrolling. It makes for terrible user experience when a user cannot go back to find a piece of information that they just consumed a few minutes back. There is no sorting, filtering or navigation technique to identify a specific piece of content in this. It is easier for people to remember that a particular item was on page 8 and directly go there instead of scrolling endlessly back and forth. 
When a user wants to achieve a task using your website, infinite scrolling is going to be terrible for their experience. Pagination gives the mantle of command to the users while infinite scrolling snatches it away from them rudely. 
Conclusion:
If you are still dilly-dallying on whether to use infinite scrolling or not, the only thing we would like to ask you is this- Does using infinite scrolling on your website put you at a great advantage vis-a-vis the normal interface with pagination? If the answer to the question is ‘Yes’, then please go ahead and use it. 
If not, do keep in mind that there are a lot of designing and application development challenges that are associated with this. The advancements in technology are a great thing but if it doesn’t work for your benefit, then ignore them. Infinite scrolling can be a good thing if it aligns with your website goals and user expectations. Otherwise, it is a big ‘No.’ 
If you are an eCommerce website, please don’t even think about using infinite scrolling. It can create a negative dent on your store’s traffic and sales.

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Comments

September 8th, 2019

I couldn’t agree more. Infinite scroll sites need to die quickly! I especially detest the ones where it’s been implemented by a dev who seems to have forgotten about certain functionality that only exists in the footer of their site (e.g. Language select) so it becomes a game of speed to click a link before the next content loads!

September 11th, 2019

I agree. Traditional pagination is better for a lot of soft reasons, but engagement drives everything–and by that metric, infinite scrolling is better in a lot of concrete ways. These are all valid points, but not what matters.

September 11th, 2019

I agree that Infinite Scrolling is painful. I agree to almost all the views expressed by the author. Having a pagination like Google search results is much better!

September 13th, 2019

The article rightly raises major usability concerns. The footer is a great example of a challenge but I would like to note that a footer on an infinite scroll page will be inaccessible to any user who relies solely on a keyboard. This includes screen reader users and some users with mobility impairments. Infinite scroll is, by its very design, inaccessible to some segment of your audience.

I put together a list of questions to ask before building infinite scroll and also included some notes Google provides on how to not mess up your page rank as well.

Note that some organizations are tempted to use infinite scroll on article pages to push down the overall bounce rate in reports, probably because their jobs rely on those metrics.

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