Infinite scrolling is an ongoing trend these days for most of the website designing and is becoming increasingly popular. This kind of scrolling came into being from social networking websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn etc. The basic idea behind using infinite scrolling on the websites is to get rid of the ‘Pagination’ i.e. the requirement to click while browsing between the pages. Once you finished reading the content visible on the screen and scroll down, more content will keep appearing without the need of click or moving on to the next page.
Today, we are in the era of responsive website designs where you can browse the websites on the desktop, smartphones, notebooks or other compatible hand held devices. In such case it is of utmost importance to provide the user with an equally pleasing experience on all the devices. Here where infinite scrolling is working best. Most of the devices today are using touch technology. For small screen devices it will be quite a tedious task to tap on to the links to move to the next page, here infinite scrolling plays the genius and provides a convenient user experience.
Though this kind of infinite scrolls work remarkably well on small devices and for the websites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. However, for almost the rest of the websites who implemented it just for the sake of following the trend, it didn’t really work out and gave a subdued user experience. For these websites it weaken the web’s original intention of providing the to the point information. For example, when a user searches for some information on the web, certain numbers of links are presented to him to choose from. Once the user clicks on the link it gets you to the information page. However, in case of infinite scrolling it usually doesn’t. It directs you to a web page and you need to scroll down some dozen pages for getting to the information you require. Hence, here the basic purpose of the web is defeated.
Just how many times are you going to scroll down to get to the information you require? It sometimes gets impossible if the webpage is quite content heavy. On the other hand on web pages having multiple heavy pictures lot of data is consumed while scrolling down several pages and this slows down the PC or may even crash the browser that you are using.
You must be wondering why ‘infinite scrolling’ is working well for social networking sites such as Twitter, Pintrest, Facebook etc and not that well for the rest. It’s because of the fact that these websites have huge user base and as a result infinite user generated content that flows 24×7. This kind of heavy traffic requires the content to be continuously updated and for this ‘Infinite scroll’ is a best option as the content here is being automatically loaded and ready before users the moment they scroll down.
But this doesn’t hold that true for rest of the websites. There are some other disadvantages of the infinite scroll that one should keep in mind.
- Lacks orientation – Infinite scroll lacks orientation which leads to difficulty finding the information that have been seen on the page sometimes ago. However, this is not the case in paginated content, there you can comparatively map the information with the help of page numbers.
- Poor navigation – Website navigation is quite important for a better user experience. It is essential for a better user experience to know where they are on the sitemap. In case of infinite scrolling it is almost impossible to track. On top of it, it is extremely annoying sometimes when you click on a link and then want to go back to where you left, it would take you to the start of the feed. This is a nightmare especially for the e-commerce websites, where a user after having a look at the certain product want to go back and instead of getting to the point from where he left, landed on the start of the page.
- Crash of browsers – With infinite scrolling another misfit is when the huge amount of content loads to the memory of the computer either it slows it down to almost dead or crashes.
- No end – There is no capability to directly jump to the end of the content.
- Bad for SEO – There is almost negligible Search Engine Optimization opportunities for the content located below the first scroll.
- Bookmarking is tedious – If you want to bookmark a special point of interest on a certain page, it is not possible with infinite scroll.
Typically, every new technology has its share of pros and cons, so is the case with infinite scrolling. For some websites it is beneficial and engaging, while for the rest it can slow down or crash the UX and backfire. Usually it depends upon the basic objective of your website. Infinite scrolling may backfire if your website serves a specific purpose and expected to return specific results. This will provide a bad user experience.However, if the website is content heavy and almost all the content holds the same importance for a user, then infinite scrolling can be a really effective way of delivering that content.