Why Infinite Scrolling sucks

xkcd.com about Infinite Scrolling

Infinite Scrolling (or Endless Scrolling) isn’t a new trend anymore, it’s a common interface technique. Since the triumph of AJAX we see several websites loading new content automatically as soon as the user reaches the bottom. It’s meant to create a better user experience. But does it serve its purpose?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t question the infinite scrolling technique in general. The problem is, in most cases the implementation of the alternative to paginations is really bad. So bad that I left websites (with excellent content) several times because of a terrible scrolling experience.

What’s wrong about Infinite Scrolling?

  • Performance issues: A website that uses Infinite Scrolling gobbles up a lot of browser memory (especially websites which make use of heavy image/video content, like many blogs and magazines). For most of the users it’s hardly a smooth experience.
  • Positioning: Maybe this is the biggest issue. The missing possibility to reference the position of a user within the list of content is quite a big challenge. Clicking on links could destroy the whole navigation flow and getting the user back to his last position is really hard.
  • Useless scrollbar: Every time additional content is loaded the scrollbar is changing its size and could become really small. The position of the scrollbar and the position of content does not correspond anymore when the amount of content is growing. The Infinite Scrolling breaks scrollbar expectations.
  • Hidden top elements: Menus and buttons are likely to be at the top of a website. With Infinite Scrolling these navigation elements are far away from the user.
  • SEO: This is not about usability but it is still very important. Most crawlers can’t handle JavaScript. If a website relies on Infinite Scrolling only, search engines won’t see all the content.

How to enhance the Endless Scrolling experience?

  • Trigger manually: Use a button to load more content. It’s still a pretty neat experience and the user is in control of the content. Additionally, a button allows you to use a normal footer.
  • Use the URL: By adding parameters (ids or classes) to the URL it’s possible to bring people back to their last position.
  • Fixed elements: For elements at the top (like the menu), use a fixed position to make them persistently visible and usable.
  • Use indicators: This rule applies for every AJAX element: Show what’s going on and let the user know when something is loading.
  • Accessibility*: Make sure all your content is accessible without JavaScript. Build an archive page with a list of all entries, for example.

Conclusion

Be careful. Even though it’s a common way of replacing paginations, we still see a lot of broken and bad implementations of Infinite Scrolling. It’s definitely possible to use it in a good and practical way. But it depends strongly on the context it is used in. With the rise of mobile internet we have to differentiate. It might be useful in some applications and it could enhance the user experience on devices. Think carefully about the value it adds. Don’t implement it just because it sounds fancy.
I would recommend Infinite Scrolling for pages/services with a lot of small content elements (like Pinterest) and not for text/image heavy content. Best Practices: Google Reader/Mail/Images, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram.

About eReader

Another interesting discussion popped up in the last days because Apple added Infinite Scrolling to the latest version of iBook. It’s a bit different because I think we can’t compare books and websites but if you want to read more about this topic I would recommend these articles:

*Google: “Therefore, to improve the user experience, when we detect that a content series (e.g. page-1.html, page-2.html, etc.) also contains a single-page version (e.g. page-all.html), we’re now making a larger effort to return the single-page version in search results. If your site has a view-all option, there’s nothing you need to do; we’ll work to do it on your behalf. Also, indexing properties, like links, will be consolidated from the component pages in the series to the view-all page.”

How do I feel about blogging in English?

5 month ago I wrote for the first time about my plan to start blogging in English. A month later I tried it during my time in London. So, how do I feel about this decision today? I have to admit that I was about to end the whole experiment in September. I missed writing in German and I recognized that my articles became shorter. I had to think a lot more before I started writing than I was used to. I’d even prepared an article to explain my decision to switch back to German. My cursor was just centimeters away from the “Publish”-button but I didn’t do it. I saved it as a draft and a few days later I came up with the text about DDB’s #firstworldproblemes meme campaign. The reactions were overwhelming and the article was mentioned on Time.com, Guardian.co.uk and several blogs. It did feel like they wanted to show me how nice it could be to have an international audience. It would have never happened if I had published the draft earlier that week.

So, what to expect?

I’m absolutely sure now that the decision was right and over the past 4 months I could notice an improvement in my English skills. I hope you have too. I will try to publish longer articles and write more own stuff. I think there is still a lot of potential left and that’s exactly the reason to stay hungry. And I don’t want to miss talking to a bigger and more international audience. It’s a great opportunity to get feedback and visitors from all over the world.
On the other hand I don’t want to lie, sometimes I really miss writing in German. So, why should I limit myself to use only one language? Just for the purpose of consistency? Frontand.de is “just” a blog and as long as I have fun, everything should be fine. I will start writing some articles in German. When the time is right.

What about you?

Did you enjoy my change to English or would you like to see more German posts in the future? Are the articles too short? Are you missing anything? I definitely would appreciate your feedback.

cya.

Recommendations of the week #3

Time is running. Again it’s time for the weekly recommendations, starting with a funny and bizarre video effect:

The technique behind it is very simple:

The first line of the video is realtime, the second line is late of 1/60s, the third is late of 2/60s, etc.

And here is the rest:

If you want to follow all my article recommendations through the week, have a look at my QUOTEfm profile.

Recommendations of the week #2

This week passed by very quickly and I’m really sorry for not posting any new articles. Now it’s time for my weekly recommendations:

Additionally some recommendations I shared on QuoteFM:

Have a good weekend.

Recommendations of the week #1

In 2010 I started a little, weekly series in which I shared interesting links, articles or videos I had found during the week. I called it “Wochenend-Lektüre“. I don’t know why I stopped it after 10 episodes and so I want to restart it today with the name “Recommendations of the week”.

Here we go.

If you want to follow all my text recommendations have a look at my quote.fm profile.

If you stumble upon interesting stuff during your week, just drop me a line.

Polygon landscapes by Timothy Reynolds

I first saw some of Timothy Reynolds’ polygon worlds on Dribbble and I immediately fell in love with this 3D low-poly style. That was about 2 months ago and in the meantime his work was featured on several big websites like The Verge, AdWeek, Design Milk, boingboing, TNW or The Fox Is Black. Nevertheless, I want to show his 3D low-poly worlds here, too.

See more 3D worlds

Youtube’s design is changing again

In June Google started to roll out a new design for their video platform Youtube. I wrote about it here. It is very similar to the latest redesign of Google+.

Today I recognised some more changes. They’re not that big but I would say it’s enough to talk about.
So, what’s new? Besides the new look of the left sidebar the entire site (including video detail pages) is left-justified now. I would love to know the reason behind this decision. Furthermore, the left sidebar which is showing subscriptions and activities will be present on every page now. Those two changes will mostly affect the presentation of videos.

I think not everybody is seeing all the changes yet. So, here are two screenshots of the new design:

Youtube’s new activity stream.

The detail page which is presenting the videos.

And a screenshot of the old design:

The design which was presented in June this year.

What if money was no object?

An amazing lecture from the late Alan Watts. Just beautiful. In a bit more then half a year I (hopefully) will finish my studies and I’m still not sure what to do after it. What would I love to do when if money was no object?

Don’t make up and drive

After I criticized advertising last week I want to highlight one of my favorite ads today. I stumbled upon this piece of work last month and I think it’s one of the best awareness campaigns I have seen so far. Funny enough it’s also made by DDB.

The problem: In the UK half a million car crashes a year are caused by women doing their make up while driving.

The idea: To generate awareness for this topic DDB arranged a cooperation between Volkswagen and Nikkie. She is one of the most famous girls on youtube, known for her make up tutorials and beauty tips.

The result:

This campaign is not great because of its execution (slow motion effects have been used a lot in accident awareness campaigns). In this case the timing of the effect is just brilliant and also the setting is perfect to target the specific audience. Great work.

I also recommend to watch the whole case movie and read the comments on youtube: “fuck i fell off my chair”, “I love it! Best awareness video ever!”, …

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite available in Germany

Earlier today I checked the prices on ebay for Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, the awesome eReader presented in September. I didn’t order one because I hoped the prices for imports will drop in the coming weeks.

In summer I was about to buy a normal Kindle because I wanted one for our travel to Sydney. But after I read about an upcoming Amazon event and the rumors about new Kindles, I postponed my plans. When the day of the presentation came I was really enthusiastic about the new Paperwhite. It was exactly what I was hoping for. The bad news: The sale should start in October and delivery would be possible in the US only. That’s why I checked the prices on ebay nearly every day.

Today Amazon was surprising me a lot with its announcement that the Kindle Paperwhite (129 Euro) and the Kindle Paperwhite 3G (189 Euro) are ready for pre-order in Germany! Shipping will start on the 22nd of November (first come, first served). I already ordered mine.

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