The Infinite Scroll

Paul Schetelich

Lead Designer

Infinite scrolling is a type of web format where users keep scrolling as new information is loaded. There are no “next page” links to click on. When done right, infinite scrolling provides a seamless and intuitive user experience.

If you’re scratching your head wondering if you’ve ever seen an infinite scrolling website before, think Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They are all great examples of what infinite scrolling looks like. Of course, your website isn’t a social media site. Just because infinite scrolling works for them doesn’t mean it will for you - or could it?

In this post, we are going to discuss the pros and cons to infinite scrolling and finish up with whether or not it could work for you. By the end of this read, you should be comfortable with the concept of infinite scrolling and its potential role for your website.

What are the Pros?

It’s mobile friendly.

Infinite scrolling makes browsing easier for mobile users. Rather than trying to click that tiny “next” button and waiting for another page to load, users are able to scroll up and down to get the information they need.

This type of setup also allows users to retrace their steps (although it’s not always easy to find previous information, as we’ll discuss in the cons). Think about the last time you tried to navigate back and forth on your mobile browser. Those tiny arrows and “back” and “next” links can be frustrating.

It keeps readers engaged.

You’re probably always fighting to keep visitors on your website. Increasing load times, simplifying content, optimizing images, etc. are things that most marketers try. But, it’s possible that the simple switch to an infinite scrolling website can do the trick.

Continuous scrolling is easier and more intuitive for users. After all, the habit of scrolling is something that comes natural to most. On the other hand, asking users to click to “see more” breaks up the experience and can cause them to leave your site.

It’s great for content and real-time data.

You might think that infinite scrolling is better for smaller websites, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, you can show a lot more data with infinite scrolling, including multiple pieces of content at once.

Another type of content that works well with infinite scrolling is real-time content. Since the infinite scroll will update automatically, users get fed timely, relevant information. This is why social media networks use this type of format.

What are the Cons?

It’s difficult to search for specific items.

Even though scrolling through a website is effortless, it can be challenging to find specific information. If a user is looking for something you saw earlier, there’s no way to search for it. They have to keep scrolling up and down until they find what they need.

The same goes for skipping information. Users have become efficient at passing over the pages and blocks of text that they don’t need on traditional websites, but this can’t be done as effectively on infinite scrolling websites. Users have to keep scrolling until the information loads and then continue on once it has been brought up.

Your website won’t have a footer.

Footers aren’t a necessity for all websites, but not having one means that you’ll have to be creative with footer information. Since you won’t have a place for this information, you’ll have to move it into a heading, which could look strange. If you leave out the information, users might be confused about where to find certain pages such as “Contact Us” or “About Us.”

It uses JavaScript.

The most popular way to implement infinite scrolling is through JavaScript. Unfortunately, search engines do not crawl JavaScript as successfully as HTML. Google, specifically, has stated that it’s easier for the search engines to crawl and index in HTML rather than JavaScript, but it’s not impossible.

What Google recommends is to create an infinite scroll page and a series of other pages that match up with the infinite scroll pages. This QuickSprout article has step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

What’s the Verdict? Is Infinite Scrolling Right for You?

Now that you have a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of an infinite scrolling website, how do you feel about it working for you? It’s not a matter of opinion but rather the type of website and company that you have. For some websites, the infinite scroll works great. For others, it’s a nightmare.

In general, certain industries tend to do better with infinite scrolling. Social media is one example but another is entertainment websites. These types of sites are designed to entertain people, and they don’t have a hierarchy of content or a sales funnel to push people through.

With that in mind, ecommerce websites make poor candidates for infinite scrolling. Visitors would be unable to research various products and move through the site. They also wouldn’t have the option to skip over information that isn’t useful to them.

Most web owners aren’t a definite yes or no, however. You probably fall into the “maybe” category, which is why you’re reading this article! If you think infinite scrolling could be a nice upgrade for your site, talk to a web development agency about their thoughts on the matter. If you have a plan to deal with the cons and feel that you have more to gain than lose, infinite scrolling might be just the thing needed to advance your site.

About the Author: Paul Schetelich

Since the days of sidewalk chalk and finger paints, Paul has been creatively crafting the art of design. With a B.A. in Graphic Design from Monmouth University and a Masters from the Califano School of Art - Paul quickly moved up the ranks at SEMGeeks from Junior Designer to the Lead Designer. With 4+ years of experience in web design Paul is ready to conquer the digital atmosphere.

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