The Proficiencies And Constraints Of Opting For A Website Design With Infinite Scrolling

  Oct 15, 2015   Web Design 3177 Views
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Infinite scrolling: the pros

Fans of infinite scrolling believe that it can provide for a better user experience. Reasons for this include:

Faster browsing:

Clicking from page-to-page through a paginated experience is typically a time-consuming process that, while pragmatic, rarely seems like an efficient or satisfying way to browse content. The infinite scrolling experience, on the other hand, can be incredibly efficient and, when implemented well, provides for a more enjoyable experience.

Made for touch:

Infinite scrolling has become more popular as smart phone and tablet ownership has surged, and the infinite scrolling experience is one that can be found in numerous mobile apps. With our increasingly touch-centric world influencing interfaces, it's only natural that something like this would find its way into the general web design toolkit.
Potentially greater content exposure.

Pagination often discourages users from perusing large volumes of content. Google is one of the best examples of this: most of us rarely go beyond the first or second page of Google search results. Infinite scrolling, however, changes the game and in some cases, results in the user seeing more content than she would have in a paginated experience.

Infinite scrolling: the cons

Infinite scrolling isn't without its drawbacks, however.

More JavaScript:

JavaScript is great, but too much of a great thing can be a bad thing. With more and more sites relying heavily on JavaScript, performance is a huge concern, and infinite scrolling can certainly be a big performance liability.

Additionally, while some of the most popular infinite scrolling JavaScript libraries implement the functionality as a progressive enhancement, leaving traditional pagination in place for users without JavaScript, designers and publishers must recognize that as more and more JavaScript-based functionality becomes a part of the intended user experience, it often becomes more difficult to maintain a good non-JavaScript experience.

Navigation complexities:

Infinite scrolling often introduces numerous navigation issues. Although bookmarking a paginated search results page is inherently a risky proposition for users, the option to do so is basically taken off the table altogether with infinite scrolling.

Far more worrisome: navigating back to an infinite scrolling page is typically a nightmare (most of the time the user must start from scratch) and because many infinite scrolling implementations fail to indicate to the user just how much content there is, the overall experience can be as disorienting as it is smooth.


One of the biggest questions asked about infinite scrolling has to do with SEO. Google is capable of indexing content rendered through AJAX, and infinite scrolling implemented as a progressive enhancement should alleviate SEO concerns, but if you overlook these details, it could spell SEO trouble.

So is infinite scrolling the best thing since sliced bread, or the worst thing since Flash? That depends. While the successful use of this functionality on high-profile services like Twitter and Pinterest suggests that the infinite scrolling trend will continue, it's important to recognize that it hasn't worked everywhere.

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