Why you shouldn’t use infinite scroll on your website

Reproduced (with permission) from Bizzabo chief product officer Boaz Katz:

Endless scrolling emerged from social sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in order to skip the need to click when moving between pages (pagination). If you are considering using infinite scrolling for your website here are 10 reasons why not to use it:

1. Users will lose the page length orientation – the browser scrollbar become useless.
2. There’s no ability to jump to the end of the list.
3. Your users will not be able to get back to the same in-page position in 1 click.
4. There’s no visible footer until your users come to the end of the list/content.
5. Slow Experience – You are using a lot of browser memory as the page scrolls down.
6. If you switch away from the page by following a link there’s no way of getting back to where you left off.
7. Lack of sense of completion- no closure for users.
8. There’s no SEO opportunities for content located below the first scroll.
9. You lose the ability to bookmark a dedicated point of interest.
10. Distraction – The fear of missing out on data or other options will deter your users from completing an action.

Thank you Eli Hoffmann for the tip.

4 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t use infinite scroll on your website

  1. Hi David,

    Thanks for the article.

    I think the use of pagination vs scrolling depends on the site content.

    Pagination is more relevant when user is looking for the next click/action. or when content can be divided into a structure,
    for example, car review that split pages into labels like “performance”, “Interior” and so, so the user can skip to the relevant information.

    Our content is base on reading and eyes search for key words and scanning for information, therefore scrolling is more appropriate.

    Here is a reference for a good article from Jakob Nielsen and Dan Norman (user experience research group):

    http://www.nngroup.com/articles/infinite-scrolling/

    Thanks
    Kfir

  2. 7. Lack of sense of completion- no closure for users.

    I think that’s “the point”. Sites that want users to get into an endless cyclic and habitual activity use endless scroll. And in that paradigm it’s not that you can’t reach the bottom, there’s no bottom. The site’s promise to the user is to keep piling on more interesting stuff at the top faster than he can read it.

    If the goal is to saturate the user’s attention span with interesting content, but not to be comprehensive about anything, the paradigm is very logical and most of the objections fall away.

    In our site’s context we have some users who need to be fully informed about particular stocks. A bounded page experience like a quote page suits that because it’s oriented around the topic and has a beginning and end.

    But others are ‘exploring’ and an endless page experience might fit that better. The set of content relevant to them is unbounded and the goal is to show them the maximal amount of relevant material within the limited time they will pay attention.

  3. This is exactly right on. It’s like dumping a user in the middle of a city with no wayfinding/signage.

    It’s the best way to quickly piss off a potential customer.

    This “scrolling” trend reminds me of the old splash pages in Flash, another senseless exercise in CEO/organizational vanity.

    I have also noticed that in these scrolling sites for SaaS or Apps that you can’t ever find the Features page or Pricing page. They just want you to “try it.” Well, I am too busy to try it. You already pissed me off by not giving me easy access to the info I need to make a decision about IF I want to try it. It also makes me wonder if your Saas/App is also as difficult to use as your website is.

    Here’s one that I’ve been using as an example lately of what not to do – https://slack.com/

    (The supposed purpose of this software is ironic given this context.)

  4. Thanks for the post. I agree with other comments that in some cases infinite scroll is better, but not always so. I personally feel unfulfilled by it many times. It is like shopping at a clothing store, seeing some jeans you really like, and going through the stacks to find your size…except that you are forced to give up at some point. It makes me wonder if I’m missing something…but maybe that’s related to personality type.

    Also, the same problem can happen with a lot of paginated content, but at least you can rationalize it by looking at the first X number of pages. Here’s a thought exercise: imagine if Google search results came back via infinite scrolling…what would be the equivalent of the ‘first page’? A couple of scrolls down? I personally think it would induce anxiety because it is so easy to stop at two pages and think you’re being thorough in your search efforts. 🙂

    -Charlie

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