2018-10-18
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#accessibility#web design
Fatih Kadir Akin
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Oct 18, 2018 ⋅ 5 min read

Stop building websites with infinite scroll!

Fatih Kadir Akin Developer, writer, and amateur etymologist.

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12 Replies to "Stop building websites with infinite scroll!"

  1. Very interesting list of different techniques, but do you have any sources that back up your claims about ux? For example next and previous buttons being preferred over infinite scroll?

  2. “Not being able to reach the bottom of a website can make the user stressed”

    Do you have any information to back this claim up? Otherwise, it’s just your opinion.

    “On item-based lists, the user wants to find an item. Infinite scrolls make your items almost impossible for your users to find.”

    Good developers and PMs build things called “Search” features. Have you heard of them? If your e-commerce website doesn’t have a search feature, infinite scrolling is the LEAST of your problems.

    “Infinite scrolls make the pages less controllable for the users.”

    Your point is? What does “less controllable” mean anyway? Click on a next or prev button somehow gives more “control?”

    “Users scroll for a time, and because it’s a stateless design, they do not know how many times the “next page” loaded.”

    Why does the user need to know this? I love using Chrome, but I don’t need to know how it works.

    “When they refresh the page, they will reset all the way back to the original page.”

    A good developer can retain the state of any page.

    Overall, this post is just opinion, and you make yourself look like a luddite. No one should believe a word you have said about “what the user wants” or what makes a user “stressed” unless you have some sort of UX study to back up your ridiculous claims.

    1. “Do you have any information to back this claim up? Otherwise, it’s just your opinion.”
      As a user, I get frustrated when a page continues to load forever the more I scroll for all of the reasons in the article. I will lose my place if I navigate away from the page, if I’m looking for a specific item on the page I won’t know how many times I have to scroll to the bottom for it to load, etc. While I can’t speak for everyone, the author references users, and I am a user who feels they way they claimed. So there is at least one data point to back it up.

      “Good developers and PMs build things called “Search” features.”
      Sure, but that doesn’t mean users will know the search feature is there, now how to use it, or want to use it. Having one feature that is intuitive doesn’t justify the existence of another one that’s counterintuitive. I work with a lot of elderly people who will spend 10 minutes poking around in every directory on their computer looking for a file, completely ignoring the existence of the Start menu search feature. They do similar things on websites. Maybe it’s a generational thing. The point is, though, that not everyone will do everything the same way, not everyone will know every method of accomplishing a task, and thus every method a person may choose should be easy and should make sense.

      “What does “less controllable” mean anyway?”
      Allowing the user to navigate to a specific point at will. Let’s say you read something interesting on page 12. You can just go back to page 12. Now imagine the same scenario with an infinite scroll page. You have to first remember where it was in the list, which is not represented by a number like 12. Then you have to scroll to the bottom and wait for new content to load. 12 times. And if you accidentally miss it and scroll past it you’ll just be scrolling forever, because you don’t know where it was supposed to be.

      “Why does the user need to know this?” For the aforementioned reason. Makes it easier to find things they may want to go back to. If I found a product, for example, on page 16, and have since navigated away from the page, I may not remember the name of the product, but if I at least remember it was on page 16 that’s a starting point. Heck, I could even get back to page 16 from my history if I didn’t remember a page number. As opposed to an infinite scroll page in my history which would be completely useless because then I would be tasked with hunting it down in an endless mess.

      “A good developer can retain the state of any page.”
      And if they do, that’s certainly a step in the right direction. They don’t always do this. When they do, it may not store the position forever. Maybe you’re trying to access the page from a different device. You can’t find your spot, but you could have found a specific numbered page.

      “you make yourself look like a luddite”
      Spoken like a true developer, completely disconnected from how the user experiences the webpage. Not everyone who visits your page is going to have a strong understanding of how technology works. In fact it should probably be *assumed* that everyone who visits it will be a luddite, so that it can be designed in a way that is user friendly for all, regardless of experience level. Making a webpage that makes sense to you, but that is not intuitive to your users, is shooting yourself in the foot.

      Since you don’t seem to trust the reasoning of points made without formal studies to confirm their validity, I would like to be very clear that nothing I’ve posted in my comment is claimed to be backed by scientific research. It’s just based on my personal experience as a user, and my experience helping clients understand technology (which is what I do for a living). Which is admittedly anecdotal, my only point is that there are at least some people in the world who agree with the points the author is making and I don’t think those points should be dismissed just because they don’t include surveys and citations.

  3. Agree, I got annoyed by website which include these features.. Im visit just for read some articles, not to read endlessly..

    and some people on this comment who wrote
    “Do you have any information to back this claim up? Otherwise, it’s just your opinion.”
    So your claim are fact?

  4. Your comment has been the most accurate. I can not believe he said numbered pagination is preferred… I mean the only way I think is right to do this is when working on administration panel where a table is being used. Otherwise, blogs, articles, news feeds, etc. They all should be using infinite scrolling.

  5. That’s why the developer should always implement some kind of search solution alongside with some advanced filtering to make it easier for the user to find what he/she is looking for.

  6. I strongly disagree, infinite scrolling ALWAYS gets in the way in my experience.

    Take blogs, if I find a blog and get invested in reading it back in time, infinite scrolling makes it really hard to find a place to bookmark to resume reading it later. Photo galleries are even worse, I’ve just spent the last 10 minutes trying to go back to where I left off browsing a friends photos because Facebook kindly unloaded the page while I was looking through some photos from 8 years ago. I’m actually here on this post because of how frustrated I was getting with it.

    Flickr ruined their search function with infinite scrolling. I used do a search term and spend weeks looking down the results, now I can’t as it limits the results and doesn’t have page numbers where I could resume from. Fortunately photostreams still do.

    Even on phones/tablets, there comes a point where having to constantly swipe gets frustrating where a simple tap on next or a page number would be so much easier and less cramp inducing. Infinite scroll is a quick a dirty solution that people don’t even realise has made things worse.

  7. I had this fractionation for a while, and did not know the exact terms to describe it till today. I’m in fact searching if anyone else share the feeling… I think it’s crazy infinite scrolling takes over(change from) the pagination on many of web applications. Developers somehow assume infinite scrolling is always better, when not so. A lot of times I prefer to know where I’m up to for the overall contents I’m reading through, it’s very frustrating with infinite scrolling, which I can easily getting lost. With the pagination I can keep track of how many pages I have read or which page I’m up to, in case I need to return to the same site to resume reading, next day say. It takes so much more time for me to search for certain e-mails from few years back, until I gave up last night, because hotmail has been changed to infinite scrolling. I use to able to pin point by jump to certain pages to narrow down search fairly quickly with the pagination before the new design ‘improvement’ 🙁

  8. I do fully agree with the author. Infinite scroll looks as the easiest way to use a web page at a first glance, but when You start using it seriously, bookmark it, save or do whatever beyond “just scrolling” it becomes a nightmare. The one important down-side of infinite scroll which is not mentioned by an author but reminded by Tony is that You can’t just “jump” forward. With paginated navigation You can move to next page or quickly jump many pages forward. With infinite scroll You need to hurt Your fingers and load Your net and RAM with a huge amount of data You just need to skip. Pure waste of time, bandwidth, energy and money.

  9. I can say one SURE way to pi** me off is to implement infinite scroll on your website. Even worse are the sites that not only set the page to infinitely scroll but *ALSO* change the title and URL as I scroll. When I find an article from a search I want to read THAT article. If I see another interesting item linked from that page, THEN I’ll click through.

    Setting up Infinite Scroll is certain to get a very angry email from me. And if I eventually remember your site is one of the major offenders, I put your site on my block list so I never have to see it again.

  10. Brilliant Blog Post. For anyone interested in why Infinite Scroll is hacking our attention spans and disrupting our thought process – please read the book Stolen Focus by Johann Hari.

    For me it can easily be explained as I am looking for something through a window but you never reach the end. Until you get bored of searching. It is all about dopemine hits taking over your brain and making us forget our intentions.

  11. I found this post after trying to use Meetup.com, which uses infinite-scroll *AND* a footer. There was something at the bottom in the footer I wanted to click on, but every time I try to scroll to it before I could aim my mouse at it the page would add another 20 items to the event list. I’d scroll to the bottom again, and again before I could click on the thing I wanted it would add another 20 items. So frustrating I never want to use Meetup again.

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