Infinite scrolling has been with us for a good few years. Many of the biggest sites on the web have embraced infinite scrolling, and it’s easy to see why. The more content we feed to visitors, the longer they’ll stay on our sites. If they have to click on a pagination link when they reach the bottom of a page, they might decide to go somewhere else.
Infinite scrolling can enhance a user’s experience, and I’ve seen it implemented well on a number of sites. But they’re far outweighed by the sites that don’t sweat the details. The infinite scrolling may work, but on a site that was originally designed for pagination, installing an infinite scrolling plugin and calling it a day isn’t enough.
Why So Slow?
The number one problem I see with infinite scrolling is poor performance. The whole point of infinite scrolling is that users don’t have to wait around for more content to load. Infinity is continuous, and an infinite stream of 20-second pauses during which I watch a spinner as the site struggles load the next set of entries isn’t my idea of fun.
If you think your site would benefit from infinite scrolling, take the time to make sure that it doesn’t offer a worse experience than pagination.
Race To The Footer
This one baffles me. Why implement infinite scrolling and then put vital links in the footer that no-one will ever see. I’m not going to call any one site out here, but I’ve come across any number that have useful links that can only be glanced for a moment before they disappear off the screen as new content loads.
In reality, I know why sites do this: there’s an SEO benefit to having footer links, and they’re not really intended for use by human visitors. But, if you want to have an SEO-only footer, make sure you move important links — like those to the About or Contacts page — into a sidebar or navigation element.
Where Was I?
Finally, and perhaps most frustratingly, when I click on a link to an article presented four pages down in an infinite stream, I want to be returned to the same place in the list when I click the back button. If I’m returned to the top of the list and forced to scroll all the way back down to my previous position, I’m likely to just give up.
Failing to retain the user’s scroll position breaks one of the fundamental expectations of the web. If infinite scrolling is meant to make users click on more links, defeating their attempts to do so isn’t smart.
As I said, I don’t have a problem with infinite scrolling if it’s implemented properly, but more often than not, it doesn’t provide the intuitive and helpful experience it’s intended to.Posted in: Nexcess