Infinite scrolling or endless scrolling promises better user experience. However, advantages are often accompanied by disadvantages. Once you have understood the strengths & weaknesses of endless scrolling, you can use it to enhance your site’s interface. Though the success of continuous scrolling on various social media websites has made it popular among the people, but it does not mean that you should necessarily use it. Infinite scrolling is beneficial for the content, which streams continuously and contains relatively flat architecture, where every content unit belongs to the same hierarchy level & has same chances of being intuitive to the users.
What actually infinite or endless scrolling is!
Infinite scrolling is an excellent web design technique, which allows continuous loading of content as the visitor scrolls down the page. This eliminates the need for pagination. In other words, endless scroll is a feature, which automatically loads the next set of items or posts when the user get to the bottom of page. It is specifically designed to help users go through several posts effortlessly. When you approach the bottom of posts page, you will notice a loading icon shown briefly as the next set of posts load below.
Infinite scrolling has been called unpaginate, endless pages or autopagerize. But essentially continuous scroll is pre-fetching the content from next page and then adding it directly to the current page of user. As the visitor scrolls down, the subsequent posts page is retrieved & appended automatically. This means that user never needs to click on the next page while dramatically increasing stickiness.
What are the advantages that infinite scrolling offers!
Faster Scrolling Than Regular One: A quick loading website is what the site users value the most these days. People do not want to click on the individual pages and wait for them to load. This is especially important for the e-commerce sites with a huge inventory of products. Infinite scrolling technique is ideally suited for such sites. For instance, if your website offers 300 types of watches, rather than showcasing them on 5 distinct pages, it is wiser to set up an infinite scroll. As the customer scrolls down, the results from next page will automatically load on the current page & begin to show.
Ultimate For Image-loaded Websites: Nowadays, many sites cater to users who are addicted to viewing pretty images. Tumblr and Pinterest are examples of image-heavy sites that follow infinite scrolling pattern. Continuous scrolling allows greater exposure to the content as the users find it more convenient to scroll down the page than to click on different pages. This way visitor does not have to think about viewing mor results, he will just scroll and see the images. Google images is the best example of an image-heavy website, which uses infinite scrolling technique.
Excellent For Touch-screen Devices: Continually scrolling down a single page to view the additional pages is certainly easier and more efficient than tapping the pagination link on the small screens of mobile devices. This is why infinite scrolling is ideal for touchscreen devices. If a website displays its information or content in the style of feeds, then you can definitely rely on infinite scrolling. The perfect examples would be Facebook and Twitter sites.
No Need To Wait For Additional Content: No one wants to wait for another page to load and display clearly just to view more content. Infinite scrolling eliminates the inconvenience of navigating to the different web pages. This is why continuous scrolling is so trendy these days and is used in many websites, especially e-commerce and image-heavy sites. In comparison to clicking each page & viewing 20 to 30 items at a time, it is more convenient for users to scroll up and down between the products that they like.
What are the disadvantages of infinite scrolling!
Every solution invites its own hurdles and the same is true for infinite scrolling. There are few things that need to be considered before using this technique:
Cannot Skip The Results: Infinite scroll does not allow you to skip certain results. For example, if you do not want to see first 800 results and want to directly view the 801th result, there is no way to do that with endless scrolling.
Uses Lots Of Browser Memory: Another reason to avoid endless scrolling technique is that it may crash your browser, especially if you are using its outdated version. Even though your browser does not need to load every page individually in a sequence, it still loads more content into your window and use up more resources. With an older browser or slow internet connection, it would deliver poor user experience.
Not Possible To Get Back To Same Position: Scrollbar on an endless scrolling site can be annoying some times. Once you have scrolled long enough, it gets small & unreachable. Even it becomes difficult to locate a specific page to look for the desired information.
Risks Reading By Search Engine Crawlers: Infinite scrolling needs special attention so that SEO performance does not get hurt. Search engines usually crawl the links that are located on the page. All, the pages links are exposed to the crawlers when the pagination is used. The crawler reads page by page, link by link to index the available items. In case of infinite scrolling, search engine crawler encapsulates multiple pages concept. Since only some part of items are pre-loaded on continuous scrolling site, therefore only loaded items will be read by the search engine crawlers as this is the only set of items that crawler indexes.
A Few Examples Of Sites Using Infinite Scrolling
Infinite scrolling is trending nowadays as this technique can be used in different types of sites. It is not only suitable for e-commerce websites, but also sites with loads of images. A number of popular sites are using this method to deliver better experience to their users. Here are a few incredible examples of such sites: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Ebay.com.
About the author: Being a creative developer at Sparx IT Solutions, Tom Hardy remains abreast of the latest website trends in the market. He loves to share his knowledge and ideas with the people through blogs and keeps them aware of the current changes in technologies.