Why Infinite Scrolling Needs to Die
One of the most overused and poorly implemented UX trends of the past few years is Infinite Scrolling. Infinite Scrolling sounds like a useful UX feature. When a user scrolls to the bottom of the page more content is automatically loaded.
No more clicking from page to page to see additional content. If your connection is fast enough the page seems to go on forever.
The rise of infinite scrolling seems to coincide with growing use of phones and tablets as a way to browse the web. It can be seen on social media applications like Twitter and LinkedIn. I have also seen it implemented on more and more blogs and content rich websites.
What’s Wrong with Infinite Scrolling?
Difficult to navigate if you lose your place.
I have this problem often when I am browsing on my tablet. I have the original iPad which is still great but the browser is older and crashes often. Sure I need a new iPad with a new browser that hopefully doesn’t crash but this is really a UX design problem.
One of my guilty pleasures is browsing fashion and shelter blogs. I love them! They are full of lovely photos and stories and I love to browse them on lazy Sundays.
I’ve noticed lately that many bloggers have adopted themes with infinite scrolling.
When I spent time to scroll through a couple of months of posts only to start over from the top it’s not exactly relaxing browsing. It’s frustrating and high blood pressure inducing.
Sometimes pages almost seem to bounce around when new content is loaded. This causes users to lose their place and causes a frustrating and difficult experience. So much content added at once can also be overwhelming.
No Footer Access
Footers appear and then disappear. This is especially annoying and obvious when content doesn’t load quickly. Worst, sometimes the footer is full of interesting links and information. When I’m trying to click on the footer only to see it disappear again and again I want to close my browser and never ever visit the offending site again. Don’t make your users experience this frustration.
Who Does It Well? – Twitter and Pinterest
Prompts to load new content
As new content becomes available a small indicator appears and I can choose to go to the top of the page a see new content or keep scrolling. No jumping content.
No disappearing footer
The footer doesn’t disappear because there is no footer.
Functionality that would normally be split between the header and footer is provided in a small header that is always visible no matter how far I scroll. I still risk losing my place if I click on something but it’s an improvement.
A Better Alternative
Have the user click to load more content instead of auto loading. Provide a button on the bottom of the page that can be clicked to load more content using AJAX. Still snappy and easy to use but less overwhelming.
Provide an easy way for users to find older content without scrolling endlessly. Sometimes users may want to look at older content and they shouldn’t have to scroll endlessly. Organizing content so that it is easy to narrow down helps. Also providing traditional pagination can allow visitors to view older content quickly and easily.