By now, you’ve probably visited an infinite scroll website. Your favorite blog likely uses one, alongside most podcasting sites and even software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. The premise is simple: you can continue to scroll down on a single page as older content populates. You never have to click the navigation bar at the top or page through content. Instead, it’s a never-ending stream of scrolling. Here’s a fun example that uses colors to illustrate the concept!
Most web users are familiar with these types of sites without realizing it, and they actually prefer them (again, without realizing it). Here’s a look at why infinite scroll website are so popular and why they make sense as a new standard on the web today.
Scrolling is the new standard
The old saying goes, “lead by example.” Apply that logic to the most popular websites online today: Facebook, Reddit, Netflix, Instagram and more. Look at how these sites are set up. They’re one, long continuous feed of content. That’s not by accident, either! It’s meant to keep people on the page, scrolling along for minutes and hours at a time without any disruptions.
Because of these sites and their focus on engagement, infinite scrolling has exploded in popularity. The longer you can keep someone on the page and engaged, the more opportunities to capture market share. This principle applies to every website, which means almost anyone can benefit from the infinite scroll layout.
Why click when you could scroll?
Scrolling is the quickest, easiest way to digest content. Think about Twitter, for example. Tweets are only 280 characters with an image. Yet, Twitter is a mainstay for everyday web users. Why? Because they can very quickly absorb a lot of information scrolling through their feed. They grab headlines and see photos in seconds, instead of waiting for pages to load or navigating from site to site.
Compare this to a classic pagination concept. If your blog feed displays 10 posts at a time, users need to wait for each new page to load as they click through pages. If you have 100 blog posts, they’ll need to click through 10 times to see them all! This can take precious minutes and dissuade visitors from continuing. But, if your 100 posts display in an infinite scroll layout, there’s no clicking required and they’re more likely to skim through them all.
One page = linear navigation
Blog feeds and social posts are only the start. Infinite scroll pages also serve another role: they keep navigation linear. On an infinite scroll site, the flow of information goes one way, which allows site designers to control the delivery of information.
Say you have a web page dedicated to talking about new puppies. It might start with a question: “bringing home a new puppy?” Then, each new section below it elaborates on this concept to provide a smooth delivery of information. Here’s how the flow of information might work:
· Bringing home a new puppy?
· Here’s what you need to know
· Tips for house training
· Feeding information
· Exercise and playtime
· How to develop good habits
The list can go on and on, for as long as you want it to. The result is an infinite scroll that keeps people on the page and engaged, while providing them real, actionable information they find valuable.
Content is more accessible
With everything on one never-ending page, information is much more accessible to visitors. They can find what they’re looking for and engage with it, instead of getting lost in complex navigation.
Let’s say you have a blog about dental hygiene. Someone is looking for information about a specific topic, like interdental brushes. They might refine your blog by the category “brushing,” leaving 55 blog posts about proper tooth brushing. An infinite scroll site allows them to sift through all 55 blogs until they see one titled “Tips for Choosing an Interdental Brush.” A quick click and they have the information they want! It takes seconds.
Just remember to code in placeholders for your website! Nothing is more frustrating than scrolling for minutes, clicking a topic, then going back only to start at the top of the page!
Keep people engaged, ad infinitum
Two of the biggest metrics to consider for website success are bounce rate and time on page. Bounce rate measures how many people visit your site, then immediately leave. Time on page is exactly that: how much time the average person spends on your site. Infinite scroll websites address both of these metrics. They capture inbound traffic and keep people scrolling for long periods of time.
The benefits of an effectively-designed infinite scroll website are numerous. More people spend more time looking at more stuff. It all adds up to everything from better return traffic to a higher chance of conversion once they’re on the page. It’s no wonder why this site design is so popular across the web!