Since it appeared on promintent portals around 2 years ago, the new trend seems to have gained popularity and is now being adopted as a replacement for traditional website pagination. Inifinite scroll is a script code that runs on a web page and automatically brings up more information when the user hits the bottom of the page. This removes the need for a “next page” button or any other kind of pagination.
How It Works
Major portals such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have already adopted this technology and this has helped to make it popular and familiar with more web savvy users.
Most of the benefits of Inifinite Scroll are linked to the user experience. Most users find it helpful that content is automatically added to the page whenever they reach the bottom. The design also benefits from space gained and the removal of typically cluttering pagination controls.
Infinite Scroll is also very suited for mobile content where users rely less on tiny buttons or clickable controls, exclusively relying on slide to scroll gestures. The technology may also be very well suited for the next generation of mobile navigation, using eye detection allowing users to flip through content without touch at all. The new technology tracks the movement of the users eyes to determine the actions to perform, including page scrolling.
If you like what you read about Inifinte Scroll, it is time to have a look at the drawbacks and possible costs of this technique. Read on.
Inifinite Scrolling is very good at pushing users forward through your content, encouraging them to browse more and more of your posts. However, the technique falls short when it comes to moving backward or paging to specific pages. This makes Infinite Scrolling only good with small sets of pages, but it can be uncomfortable to use on more than a handful of pages. Take the simple act of going back to a previous page. This is clearly becomes more complex than the traditional back button.
Bookmarking and URL copying is still one of the dominant ways in which users share and suggest pages on the web and social media in particular. Infinite Scrolling removes much of this functionality by not allowing links directly to a specific page of posts, but rather only to the top page. This can be a major concern if you site replies on sharing of Urls to visit your content list pages.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about making your pages and content each to reach and index by search engines such as Google. Automated robots (software) scour the web to find out new content by following links on other pages to arrive at your posts. This process is a delicate one which requires sites to provide pointers and adhere to rules to ensure that the robots can actually traverse and read the content.
SEO is a critical issue for most content sites, such as blogs. For this reason, we treat the impact of Infinite Scrolling on SEO as a separate point. In essence, if properly implemented modern robots are capable of indexing and handling Infinite Scrolling pages. This however requires developers to follow guidelines carefully and provide additional navigation information to facilitate SEO. On the other hand, SEO be dramatically hindered if the necessary work is not done, resulting in your posts losing their ranking and dropping of the all important Google index.
Infinite Scrolling pages can also be a headache when it comes to collecting page analytics. The same technique that saves users the trouble of flipping through multiple pages makes it very difficult for analytics tools to track views on your listing pages.
We think that Infinite Scroll can be a great addition to a range of websites, however it is not going to replace traditional pagination any time soon, nor is it suited to all types of sites and pages. Its strengths make it useful and attractive when used to improve the user experience, especially when used in conjunction with other asynchronous techniques. It is most appealing for mobile and responsive layouts. On the other hand, its performance cost, SEO and analytics complexities can offset its perceived benefits.
For these reasons Infinite Scroll does not work well for everybody. Here is a great case study from the e-commerce website Etsy.com who tried it out and quickly decided to remove it.
>> Why did infinite scroll fail at Etsy?
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