Everything in our life will end at some point or another except when you have infinite scroll in your UX. When you’ve an endless pool of content, the user will never have enough time to scroll thorough it all. That’s where endless scrolling or infinite scroll comes in. And today we are looking at the top 10 things you need to keep in mind while designing infinite scroll. Infinite scroll might seem like a simple thing but it is something that designers often forget. If you want more then i’ve collected a list of 20 details everyone forgets in their UI UX project.

 

What is infinite scroll?

Infinite scroll is also called endless scroll. In essence, it allows users to scroll through content with no end in sight. Infinite scrolling allows a user to stay on the site for longer, and this increases the rate of engagement. The infinite scrolling pattern loads the content as needed to provide a faster experience.

 

Infinite Scroll on Instagram by Milos Subotic
Infinite Scroll on Instagram by Milos Subotic

 

What is pagination?

Pagination is the navigational method of separating content into different pages. For online content, it also refers to the automated process of adding consecutive numbers. This is to identify the sequential order of pages. A pagination system makes it easy to search for and find the content.

 

Pagination UI Design by Alexandru Brucea
Pagination UI Design by Alexandru Brucea

 

When should you use Infinite scroll?

The decision to load infinite scrolls or pagination solely depends on the type of content. For example, if a website provides a social platform, infinite scrolling can be more productive. In infinite scrolling the user is already in injection (of content) mode.

However, when a user searches about a specific topic, lazy lading is not the ideal environment for a user. The wait is just too long and results are not quick.

The scroll option is perfect for social networks like Facebook or Twitter, as the way content is consumed is in packets of information. At the same time this has some advantages. By using infinite scrolling, Facebook does everything in its power to provide each user with the most relevant information as quickly as possible so they can scan and use that information.

 

Disadvantages of Infinite Scrolling

Infinite scrolling creates a rhythm for social media sites where users are constantly chatting with new content without clicking much or waiting.

By a simple, unspoken agreement, most users understand that they do not see everything in their feed, just because the content is updated so quickly. Instagram for instance has 40 billion images on the platform. To put that into perspective – if you looked at each image for 1 second without stopping it’ll take you 1268 years just to get through all the content present on Instagram. We are not even counting stories, and videos and their duration.

 

Searching for Information

 

When users search for specific information, infinite scrolling is rarely the most efficient way to find it. While not every user uses the scroll bar, those who do so may be frustrated. Infinite scroll also removes the sense of accomplishment that users receive when finishing a task or reaching a goal on a page and then clicking on the next page.

 

Requires High Volume of Content

 

If your website or app is new and does not have a ton of content, pagination will work better for you. You don’t want the user to make a quick scroll and your content runs dry therefore, giving them no reason to stay hooked to the platform.

 

Although the problem with infinite scrolling is that users lose their place and don’t know how to get to other things within the app, there are ways to get around it. (add navigation)

 

SEO and Difficulty in Indexing Content

 

Speaking of SEO and site discoverability. Internal links are an important way for Google to discover and crawl paginated pages on a website. An infinite scrolling design, on the other hand, allows users to scroll through the shared content without having to click on it to continue.

 

Designing the best Infinite Scroll experience

 

John Mueller has created a sample website to introduce best practices for infinite scrolling, but few websites have mimicked the internal link component.

 

Navigation Bar Design

 

To navigate to a different destination on a single website, users need to click navigation links to jump to a destination on other pages, or scroll down the page to reach different content areas. Based on how you’ve spread out the information on your website – divided by type of content like images, videos or simply topic based categorization.

 

Choosing the right navigation strategy for your site or app depends on how your content is used and what your app or website’s general goals are.

 

Header Navigation for Infinite Scroll Freebie
Header Navigation for Infinite Scroll Freebie

 

One-Page Websites

 

One-page sites aim to provide just the amount of information that the user needs to make a decision and respond. One page websites tend to keep the top navigation, side bar or a narrow footer sticky to the page to enhance user experience. If you want to download some one-page. We have a great collection of free landing pages on UeyeDesign you might want to download.

 

Footer Design

 

As the feed rolls infinitely, more data is loaded as soon as the user reaches the bottom and the footer gets out of sight every time. When LinkedIn introduced infinite scrolling in 2012, users were able to grab the footer just before new posts were loaded.

 

Medium tackles this problem in a rather unusual way. Instead of putting the footer at the bottom of the entire width of the website, its sticky on the right sidebar. You can easily access important links like “Help”, “Privacy” and “Careers” at Medium.

 

Medium Footer Design for Infinite Scroll
Medium Footer Design for Infinite Scroll

 

Other website that implement infinite scrolling should either let users access the footer by gluing it or move the links to a top or sidebar and remove the footer all together.

 

Bookmarking Content

 

If you keep scrolling through content then it is very difficult for them to save or bookmark a particular piece of content. For this reason I strongly believe that Pinterest wins over Instagram.

 

Without the ability to easily save content, the user will not be able to refer back to the content in the future.

 

Pinterest Save Button during Infinite Scroll
Pinterest Save Button lets you save or bookmark content for later use

 

Loading Animations

 

Keeping users informed that the page is loading more content is a necessary feedback. Loading of new content should be fast. A looping animation can be used to create the sense that the system is working on bringing the new content.

 

Loading Animation for Infinite Scroll by Oleg Frolov
Loading Animation for Infinite Scroll by Oleg Frolov

 

Internal Links

 

A solution to the earlier mentioned problem of search results being difficult to process in an infinite scrolling page can be fixed easily. A simple peek into some of the popular website’s code reveals that they use anchor links with href attributes to these infinite scrolling designs with searchable links that point to paginated components in the page source code. Interestingly all designs with infinite scrolls used hidden crawlable links (not visible on the page)

 

Using IDs, frames, dhtml or Flash, you can not view your entire website in a text browser. Then search engine spiders can have problems crawling your website and indexing it. If the spiders don’t crawl through any of the pages or content on your website then it will not appear on search engine search results.

 

You can be sure that the HTML content in your source code is indexed by Google. However, subsequent content loaded asynchronously though JavaScript will not be indexed.

 

So what’s the solution? You’ll need to create a page with infinite scrolls and a number of other pages like to that. Kind of how pages and groups and profiles have clear URL on facebook. However, individual Facebook posts do not show up in Google search results.

 

However, a quick search on Google did not provide solutions for adding visible, searchable anchor links to infinite scrolling designs.

 

That means that this moment there is no clear solution to adding crawlable links to infinite scrolling sites.

 

Conclusion

 

If your site is based on social interactions, infinite scrolling is the preferred technique. You could replace it with pagination if you have less content or your content  is not user generated. One page sites aim to provide just the amount of information a user needs to make a decision and respond. It is important to remember to create invisible links to content for better indexing of websites. Either a navigation bar on top or a footer at the bottom should be sticky. This enables users to interact with other aspects of the website or app. Last but not least, loading animations should show that more content being loaded. While, It should be made easier for user to bookmark for later consumption.

 

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