The Best Practices for Designers Who Love Scrolling

While website scrolling has fluctuated in popularity, this trend appears to be resurging among website designers. Reinvented and liberated from its previous stigma, scrolling has proved necessary in core web design. Additionally, scrolling has provided dozens of new rules for designers to learn and apply.

Scrolling for Content-Rich Websites

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Modern sites are becoming denser in their content, and what better way to enjoy our favorite blogs and pages, than through scrolling?

Mobile optimization has also gained incredible recognition, with website designers choosing to display content through scrolling rather than linked pages. As experience has shown, users find scrolling simpler than clicking away. Why? Such interfaces are, frankly, more user-friendly.

The Rebirth of Scrolling

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In fact, mobile devices may have had a large hand in scrolling’s resurgence within the design community.

As apps allowed “surfing on the go,” web design began homing in on mobile content—the concept that content should also be suitable for smaller screens. Scrolling, in many ways, became the most appropriate method to do that.

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Prolonged scrolling is easier than building additional pages. Scrolling also happens to be considerably faster when accessing content—much faster than clicking between pages (especially when internet speed is lacking).

Social networks are feeding the scrolling technique, as they benefit from the considerable content wealth scrolling can provide.

How to Implement Functional Long Scrolling

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Adjust the scroll length to your content

If necessary, shorten scrolling. After all, short-scroll homepages continue to be popular. There is no need to sacrifice functionality for aesthetic, especially if a design isn’t suitable for your website.

Keep the navigation bar clearly visible

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In the past, one downside to scrolling was its effect on navigation bars, which caused the bars to lose visibility. Infinite scrolling, however, often keeps navigation bars in place, while ensuring users can easily switch between categories. Additionally, users can continue searching without returning to a main homepage.

While content is loading, make sure users know about it

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Websites take time to load content, but you can’t rely on your visitors to be familiar with the content or loading time prior to visiting your site.

Give your users easy-to-understand information about what they are seeing. Let them know if the page they are trying to open is “heavier,” and if it takes time to display. Progress indicators are ideal tools to illustrate the loading time for a page.

Use catchy design techniques to show them scrolling is available

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You can also use other elements in your website (including animated buttons, pointers, arrows, or other common interface tools) to draw your users’ attention.

Show them how much content they have left to see

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Infinite scrolling doesn’t mean you must display all content at once. In fact, you can inform users about a page’s remaining content by using indicators. This process allows them to stay in control of their progress; users have the option to gauge content density as well as control what they’re seeing.

This is a smart way to give visitors an idea of what your website can offer, even if they have only consumed a small portion of your content.

Make sure you know how scrolling works and what it can do for your website before you’ve applied it.

If a footer is available, add a More button

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For infinite scrolling + footers, we recommend a “More” button for users to tap when loading more content.

Basically, the user will only be able to see the whole post by tapping the button, and without chasing content. Besides, the “More” button offers a constant footer; otherwise, it can quickly disappear.

Don’t misuse it

Long scrolling gets the job done while presenting a fluid look and feel. However, that doesn’t mean you need hundreds of pages per post. Instead, add only necessary content.

Focus on what users want

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Infinite scrolling is not about endless wandering. You need to give your website a sense of direction, and you need to show users how to navigate it properly.

Finally, attach visual clues to help visitors find what they came for.

An Advantage or a Drawback: Most of Today’s Scrolling is Messed Up

Unfortunately, most websites are still using infinite scrolling incorrectly; this discourages users from exploring their content.

This is not to say designers are careless; high engagement content can be infinitely complex. However, the more overwhelmed your visitors feel, the likelier they are to leave and look for alternative sources.

The Good Sides of Scrolling

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Scrolling inspires users to interact—constant variation encourages participation. This tool allows an opportunity to tell a story in an interesting and inviting way. (Creative parallax scrolling is a particularly adept tool for storytelling.)

Since movement is made easy, scrolling encourages a user to finish a post, whereas clicking between pages can break concentration and deter visitors.

Clicking is usually a part of a cumbersome navigation scheme, which slows (if not completely restricts) user experience on your website. Scrolling, on the other hand, is fast. As you can learn from many available interaction guides, understanding users’ perception of time is extremely valuable. The perception of time can often matter more to your user than actual time spent.

Scrolling is responsive; in fact, infinite scrolling can eliminate the need to design separate website versions for different screens. It works impeccably on all devices.

Additionally, scrolling handles frequent updates—take social networks as an example. Pages constantly fed with content allow users to follow posts, starting with the freshest news available.

Finally, users love scrolling because it is universal to them, used by many popular apps and games. This universal quality probably has something to do with scrolling’s visual aspect; the functionality of scrolling is only improved by its clean and attractive look.

The Tricky Sides of Scrolling

Users may visit your site, but keeping them there can be a difficult task. While various web designs exist, most are accustomed to scrolling (passionate mobile users in particular). Though visitors may be accustomed to scrolling, this does not ensure they’ll remain on your page.

SEO disadvantages must also be taken into account. In some cases, a single page may have a reverse effect on your SEO rankings. Consider for a moment visitors who land on your site looking for specific information. They will most likely be discouraged by the lack of footers, sitemaps, and useful links.

Scrolling can even seem disorienting. Its intuitive connection to content may be too fluid for some visitors. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t really handle scrolling; how does a user “go back” to a previous section? (Hint: help your users by anchoring a navigation bar in a highly visible place.)

At times, scrolling can be misleading, as it presents all relevant information on one page. This setup can potentially create the impression that your site lacks content. And of course, with no visible footer, your user may not be aware of the available content on your site. You can solve this problem by enabling a floating footer in your posts.

Ending Thoughts

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With its trending, interactive process, scrolling can turn your website into a favored information hub—or alternatively, it can push users away. Scrolling gives users access to more content, but remember the importance of content itself. Content remains equally valuable no matter how you display it—content is king.

When done correctly, infinite scrolling can improve user experience. Above are practices to keep you on track, as well as help you deliver the best browsing experience.

Scrolling, nevertheless, can be a risky experiment for some websites, meaning it may or may not be the best method for you and your content. Think of your information and more importantly, your users. What works best for you? Tell us in the comments below.

Further Reading

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