Scrolling or clicking, which is best when creating a website? This has long been a debate amongst web designers. Some studies have shown that while clicking was once a preference, more and more people now prefer to scroll. The reason is that clicking is seen as a chore, whereas scrolling is faster and easier, especially when using mobile devices.
Now, the trend is away from clicking and back to scroll, like it was in the good old days of the Internet!
What’s the Advantage to Scrolling?
Scrolling makes it faster and easier for website visitors to see new content. It’s faster than clicking, which can be frustrating on a mobile device such as a smartphone. In fact, this is a technique that’s been used for quite a while by social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest.
This web design technique is called infinite scrolling. With infinite scrolling, it’s possible to share a wide range of information. For instance, site visitors can find all the information they need in one place, rather than clicking around the site. They scroll down the page to find what they need.
This type of website design is very simple and yet extremely effective. While this is true, designing an infinite scrolling page can be more challenging for web designers. This is because not every website can effective use scrolling.
Site Users Tend to Scan
Humans are scanners, rather than readers. Scanning is faster and requires less brain power than reading through an entire post. This is why headings are so important—because people tend to scan for the information they need and want.
To make scanning easier, website designers have found that content needs to be catered. The goal here is to keep people scrolling. It’s best to start out with a strong introduction, for instance. This grabs the readers’ attention and makes them want to read more.
Next, offering relevant facts all through the post keep people’s interest. If you keep them interested, site visitors will keep scrolling.
Another way to keep site visitors scrolling is the effective use of images. Stock images are not effective. Instead, infographics, pictures of the team, and more are highly effective and keep people interested.
One note is that it’s necessary to avoid using the false bottom. This means that your website design makes site users believe there’s great content worth scrolling for. When they reach the bottom of the page, and there’s nothing worth their while, site users become frustrated and even angry.
So, be sure to keep content interesting and valuable throughout the page. Site users will scroll for the information they want and need.
Scrolling also keeps site visitors control over the content. Rather than being forced to click all over trying to navigate the site, the users just scrolls and scans, stopping on information they find interesting. Site users have more control over what they read.
When Does Scrolling Work Best?
This style of navigation really works best for social platforms, which contain large amounts of content created by site users. To be effective, sites need to make it clear where users can find content they want. There are times when site users want to refer back to information they saw on a pervious visit. In this instance, without a clear way to find that information, the user may be frustrated. To solve this problem, Facebook created the Wall.
Infinite scrolling also works well on e-commerce and sites that are image oriented. However, one element that makes scrolling less frustrating is the use of filters to sort content. This makes it much easier for site visitors to find the information they want, rather than being spoon-fed information they are not interested in.
Other Advantages of Scrolling
Here are a few more advantages of scrolling over clicking:
Faster: scrolling is much faster than clicking through difficult site navigation, especially on a mobile phone. The site user can quickly scan and scroll, whereas clicking takes more time and thought.
Responsive design: scrolling can be easier to design.
Gesture controls: scrolling is more linked to touch than clicking. Consider the fact scrolling down is easier than tapping or clicking. It takes less effort, too, as the movement is more natural.
Increases interaction: site users will interact with a site much more when is presented in a “story telling” method, and the information is easily scanned.
Time on site increases: as well as being faster and easier, infinite scrolling can work to keep users on the site longer. The reason is site users will scroll until they find the information they want, and may keep scrolling past this to see if there’s any other content that might be useful. But don’t use the false bottom technique, or site visitors will quickly become frustrated and leave the site, taking their business elsewhere.
Are There Disadvantages to Scrolling?
Yes—let’s take a look:
Difficult users: some users don’t like to make changes; in fact, they resist change when at all possible. So, a small fraction of site users may not like scrolling through the site. They may be more interested in clicking.
SEO issues: if a site has only one page, this can cause some issues with SEO.
Going back: navigating “back” to content read previously on the page may be difficult. Some site visitors may be frustrated by this.
No footers: users expect to see footers at the bottom of the page. Most websites are designed in this way. However, if there’s no footer, users may become confused.
Summing It Up
While scrolling has its advantages and disadvantages, the positives outweigh the disadvantages. Scrolling is much easier and more natural, and it’s faster than clicking. If you’re on a mobile device, scrolling is much easier overall.
Site users’ preference has changed from clicking to scrolling, especially with the advent of mobile devices. To create an effective and successful site, it’s always best to use design elements and methods that are preferred by site users. This leads to increased time on the site, as well as increased conversion rates. In this instance, scrolling is the now the preference of site visitors.