Posted on: 03 03 2020

Infinite scrolling – Is it the best choice for your business?

Written by
Ellis Fergar
Reading time: 4 mins

Something we hear a lot from our enterprise clients is ‘we need infinite scrolling!’, and it’s hard not to see the appeal. Uninterrupted browsing creates a seamless user experience, with hundreds of products, portfolios and the like accessible at just the spin of a mouse wheel. But as any good UX designer knows, there’s no one size fits all solution for anything. In fact, infinity might be a bit much…

The perils of pagination

We’re all familiar with pagination, the dominant (and default) UX pattern. A set number of UI elements or results load, and the rest are located on separate - usually numbered - pages. It’s straightforward and functional, but far from the perfect solution.

You see, another reason for our familiarity with pagination is the frustration it causes companies and consumers alike. Navigating different pages can be slow and clunky - ultimately discouraging further browsing.

The situation is worse on mobile, with navigation between pages nigh impossible without the deft hands of a surgeon. Tiny page links packed closely together can easily turn a simple ‘next page’ request into a journey to page 100.

On the upside, pagination translates into more time spent looking at the first one or two pages. Which is great if you want to prioritise your most recent or relevant information, but otherwise means the rest is gated away.

This gating also means that webpages are periodically replaced, often causing users to lose their bearings or forget prior information altogether. The issue here is clear, as lost a user likely translates to lost business.

As a sum of its parts, pagination is a far from perfect implementation of effective and intuitive UX design. It should therefore come as little surprise that so many companies are eager to find a more elegant solution.

To infinity and beyond

At face value the answer seems simple: put everything on one gradually expanding page of potentially infinite length. The logic is sound. Removing restrictions means more browsing, and more browsing means more business. Or does it?

Infinite scrolling has a distinct advantage over pagination, in that a user is free to scroll through a webpage without interruption. If the end goal was simply to maximise time spent browsing, it does its job admirably.

But as most of us already know, information overload doesn’t always lend itself well to active engagement – or in this case business generation. If a user can keep scrolling ad-infinitum, at what point do they stop and think?

It can also create more UX problems than it solves. For example, try accessing the footer of a webpage with infinite scrolling. ‘Try’ being the key word here, because chances are it will jump away from you as new products load in.

Worse still, while you’ve been struggling to access the footer the webpage has gradually grown to enormous length. This can be a navigational nightmare, especially in use cases with a lot of information or results.

So, while infinite scrolling does have the advantage in terms of smoothness and browsing efficiency, it also introduces some UX and business-diminishing flaws. Flaws which ultimately stem from the absence of a natural place to pause.

The optimal solution must therefore combine the best elements of pagination with those of infinite scrolling – a quick but also considered experience. As it stands, the implementation of a ‘load more’ button allows you to do just that.

Now loading…

It seems strange in our breakneck, cloud-enabled era that anyone would want to slow an experience down on purpose. In fact, it’s probably why here at Luxid we get asked about infinite scrolling as often as we do. 

But implementing a ‘load more’ button can actually be great for business, as well as solving issues like a disappearing footer. It’s a simple interface that’s easy to get to grips with, with natural breaks that both empower the user and allow them to consider prior results.

These moments of consideration drive business, or at the very least give users the opportunity to remember what they’ve just seen. It also helps to prevent the mindless and haphazard scrolling behaviour many people exhibit when unrestricted.

But don’t just take our word for it. A recent study on eCommerce platforms by the Baymard Institute found that those who relied on a ‘load more’ button achieved greater sales than their competitors. But does that mean it’s always the best choice?

Provided that it has appropriate back button implementation, a ‘load more’ UX pattern simplifies navigation and streamlines the user experience. Combined with a design pattern like lazy-loading, it’s lightweight in terms of performance and networking too.

All things considered however, when the time comes to create or update your website you have to choose the solution that’s right for the job at hand. Here at Luxid we aim to make decisions like that easy.

Whether its infinite scrolling, ‘load more’, or anything else digital marketing and design – feel free to get in touch.

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