By: Jesse Erhardt – Bayshore Solutions Project Management Team
There are many new and emerging trends in website design and architecture. Of the many out there, infinite scrolling is a moderately new trend to hit the internet world. Its origins date somewhere in the neighborhood of 2005 or 2006, but did not really gain traction until WordPress debuted it as a plug-in around 2008. Infinite scrolling really took off when social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest started to utilize it to great effect with their news feeds.
Advances in coding languages have taken infinite scrolling (IS) functionality from what used to be a clunky process that was more annoying than fun to view, to one that is becoming more and more seamless. It has become a more viable option to consider when planning a website.
I am often asked if this “cool new feature” is a viable option by our clients. The answer is dependent upon what type of content they are planning to deliver, and to whom. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to using infinite scrolling in a website. An eCommerce site is a great time to use IS if supported. Whereas a text rich blog may not be.
Here are some pros and cons for incorporating an Infinite scrolling user interface in a web site.
This is great for administrators who would like to slim down navigation for ease of the user experience. As stated above, Facebook and Pinterest have been using this functionality in their news feeds for a while now to allow a user to continuously scroll through posts.
Images + Infinite Scrolling = Engagement!
Imagery as a primary medium is extremely engaging to users. Spend more than 5 minutes browsing images on Google or Pinterest, and you will see this in action.
Decreased Errors in Your Webmaster Tools Report:
This is an especially viable solution on sites that have dynamic inventory pages. if the total number of inventory results pages changes based on the number of items currently in inventory, you may have pages that are indexed, but no longer actually exist, leading to errors. Infinite scrolling is a viable option to prevent pagination issues from occurring on such sites.
Infinite Scrolling and Responsive Design Play Well Together:
We have written previous Blog posts about the trend of Responsive Design and related SEO measures. Infinite scrolling and responsive design can be used harmoniously on multiple platforms such as PC, tablet, mobile, etc. to seamlessly present content to consumers.
SEO Solution for Duplicate Content Caused by Pagination:
On web pages such as inventory feeds where many items cause results to break across multiple pages, a common result is keyword , meta data and content duplication among those paginated results. Duplicate content is a serious risk in today’s search engine algorithms that can greatly damage your search ranking results. When content such as an inventory feed is presented with infinite scrolling functionality, it eliminates duplicate content and keyword meta data cannibalization by presenting just one page for the search engines to index.
Increased Load Times:
Infinite scrolling on a slower internet connection can be extremely bothersome. Especially when searching images on Google or on Pinterest. Also, may also prove to bog down browser memory if not allowed to handle such a load in user settings.
Not Fully Supported:
Predicated browsers that do not support new versions of JQuery will not support infinite scrolling. Those browsers do only account for a small fraction of Internet users today, but we still need to take this into consideration.
Text Content + Infinite Scrolling = Increased Reading Time
On average, a user reads 10-30% slower on a digital screen than in print. This means a fair amount of readers may become bored or frustrated while browsing through an infinite amount of text on the page.
The Footer Can Become Unreachable:
It can be quite an unpleasant experience for a user to briefly see the footer, only to have it disappear when the browser loads the next set of content. Unless this is accounted for by the developer, this can be a frustrating experience for your users. An easy solution for this would be to add a “View More” button to load further content. Any important footer links are then able to be reached.
Ability to Maximize Search Engine Optimization of Content:
If content that is separately optimizable is presented on one page in an infinite scroll, the website can lose the ability to optimize for specific search terms. An Ideal SEO solution is to have dedicated and separately optimizable pages linked to items presented in the scroll. Examining the purpose of the site and page, and the way visitors expect to interact with your content will help guide in striking the right balance for SEO when considering infinite scrolling functionality.
Ultimately, the decision to use infinite scrolling as an option should be matched with the goals and purpose of your website. You need to understand how the functionality will affect user interface, SEO, and the directed path to converting visitors into customers. Infinite scrolling may be an ideal solution in some situations and not advisable in others. It is important to have a web partner that provides end-to end integration of your web presence from design and build through to marketing and conversion results.
Bayshore Solutions is uniquely qualified to be that integrated web partner and has customized the right solution for thousands of business customers. Contact us to learn more about infinite scrolling and other feature functionality to put your website ahead of the competition and grow your business.