Chances are that you’ve seen infinite scrolling on various websites with greater frequency. This scrolling technique is characterized by the dynamic addition of web content at the bottom of a webpage, each time a user scrolls down to the bottom of said webpage and nears what would be the end of the content. While it’s been around for years, it’s a big design trend as of late.
Each time something starts to catch fire in the web-design world, you have to ask yourself what’s in it for you. After all, design trends that look cool or seem catchy are totally useless if they come short of actually having practical benefits. Here, we look at the advantages that this nifty take on scrolling brings with it.
It Is a Lot Faster Than Regular Scrolling
If there’s one thing that site users value almost more than anything else these days, it’s a webpage that actually loads quickly. See, more people than ever are impatient, and no one wants to click “next page” several times over to see more web content. This is particularly important when you’re talking about e-commerce sites where many products load on every single page.
Let’s say that an e-commerce site sells hundreds of different kinds of button-down cardigan sweaters. Cool, right? I know! Instead of forcing shoppers to click for a new webpage several times over to see all the hundreds of choices, infinite scroll can be set up so that the page automatically adds new content each time the shopper gets to the bottom of the page. This is much more convenient than having to click on several webpages that only display 20 or 30 products.
A nice example of infinite scrolling on an e-commerce site is Flipkart.com. Check out this search page result for TVs.
Site Visitors Will Not Be Confused
Having confused site visitors is also something you definitely should be allergic to as a designer. Confused site visitors mean the user experience and site usability failed, yet a way to positively deal with that is the inclusion of infinite scrolling on your site.
Site visitors will find it hard to remember on what specific page something interesting they saw was. If search results are excessive, they’ll have to remember if the particular item that they liked was on page five or maybe page six of the search results. However, with infinite scrolling enabled on your site, all it takes is a quick and convenient scroll up or down along all the search results to efficiently find something that caught your fancy.
Here is another great example of infinite scrolling on an e-commerce site. This time, it’s for Svpply.com.
Perfect for Image-Heavy Websites
These days, many websites cater to people who are addicted to looking at pretty images for long periods of time. These kinds of image-heavy websites – such as Pinterest and Tumblr just to name a couple – lend themselves perfectly to infinite scrolling. Think of it: As the site visitor, you want to immerse yourself in the sumptuous feast for your eyes without worrying about nuisances like long page loads. Infinite scrolling clearly solves this and makes it a non-issue!
In addition, the technique of infinite scrolling also promotes much greater content exposure because site visitors tend to find it easier to just continue to scroll down to see more content (read: images) than to have to click for more pages. Psychologically speaking, the user doesn’t have to really actively think about wanting to see more results and then clicking another page of search results. All he has to do is basically put his brain on autopilot and keep scrolling.
A perfect example of an image-heavy website that capitalizes on infinite scrolling is Google Images. See how easy it is to scroll through the search results for “web design”.
Amazing Integration With Touchscreen Devices
When you’re trying to see additional webpages on your little, tiny handheld device, it is clearly a pain in the neck to click little, tiny links to get new webpages on your device. This is exactly why infinite scrolling is just ideal for any touchscreen devices. It’s naturally a lot simpler and more efficient to be able to use your thumb to continually scroll down to see additional pages instead of trying to successfully click that pagination link!
Any time a site displays its content and information in the style of a feed, then infinite scrolling is absolutely what you want to rely on. By contrast, pagination links would require you to have to click for every additional bit of information in the feed, which would become annoying and tiresome after some time.
Examples of sites that display content in the style of a feed are both Twitter and Facebook, and this is more pronounced on your small handheld device.
Don’t Wait for More Content
With infinite scrolling, it’s more than okay to be impatient for additional content to load once you get to the bottom of a webpage. After all, who wants to wait more seconds for a new page to load just to see additional content? Infinite scrolling does away with this inconvenience once and for all, which is why it is so trendy and being used in more and more websites as we speak.
Infinite scrolling is adaptable because it can be used for various types of websites. It’s not just good for e-commerce sites, but also sites that have loads of images.
What other types of sites do you think infinite scrolling is good for? Any thoughts on this technique, or would you rather think about each new page that loads by first having to click on a link to see additional content? Tell us what you think.