Infinite scrolling might sound like the name of some sort of cosmic, eternal punishment, but it’s actually a very common webdesign feature. In fact, if you’ve been on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter today, then you’ve already engaged in some infinite scrolling. Simply put, infinite scrolling is a web design element where new content appears as you scroll down the page. To infinity. And beyond.
We’ve all been sucked down the rabbit hole of social media at one time or another, and infinite scrolling is at least partly to blame. Not only is it a great way to communicate up-to-the-minute updates, but it also pulls users in by loading new content every time they reach the bottom of a page. Infinite scrolling allows sites with a constant stream of new content to push new information live without users having to reload or click on any links.
Infinite scrolling is an especially appealing format for visually heavy content. Since infinite scroll pages usually load faster than regular webpages where a new page has to load for each new piece of content, there’s less chance of losing users who are too impatient to wait for new pages to load. It’s also much more user-friendly for mobile or other touch-screen users. Scrolling with the swipe of a finger is much easier than trying to tap one tiny link to change pages.
Since infinite scrolling displays all content with equal importance, it’s difficult to highlight any one piece of content. A traditional website has separate pages that are organized and indexed making it easy to find specific information. Infinite scrolling essentially has all of the content on one page. If you scroll past something and want to go back to it later, it can be hard to find. The lack of searchability can also affect SEO performance.
The good news is, there are solutions for this. One popular technique called graceful degradation allows the website to accommodate browsers or devices with limited functionality. Progressive enhancement, a different, slightly more advanced option, can actually create a layer of indexed pages behind the infinite scroll functionality so that Google has an index to access, even if the user does not.
Is Infinite Scrolling Right for You?
Maybe. Maybe not. Honestly, it all depends on what type of content you are putting out. If you have a large amount of content that is constantly being updated and uploaded, infinite scroll might be a good way to showcase a continuous flow of information. This is a particularly good feature if your site is frequented by mobile users since it displays a large amount of information without the user having to click new links and load separate pages.
However, if you want to emphasize specific content or have a searchable interface, infinite scrolling might not be for you.
Still weighing the pros and cons? Let Den Web Design help you out. We are experts at assessing your needs and pointing you in the right direction.