Researchers often tell us that content above the fold in a UI design is far more likely to be engaged with by the user than at the bottom of a page. There are some benefits to keeping your homepage short and splitting the information over several pages, but in some cases it can help to have an infinite UI design where users can scroll down the page to find the information they want. Many argue that having infinite scrolling pages is better for mobile, as these can be adapted well for information that fits on a small screen and because users do not have to wait for pages to load in the traditional sense. This article will look at the advantages and disadvantages of using an infinite page in your UI designs.
Why infinite scrolling might not work
If you are creating a website where users are searching for specific products or information, they will often store in their minds the location of where they saw valid information, or a product that matches their specifications. While infinite scrolling can introduce a user to new information or products that might interest them, it is possible that an endless page with infinite search results could be a distraction. Google is a good example of a site with infinite results deliberately limiting what the user can see at any one time. Where only the first 10 results are shown for the web search, more than ten items appear in the image search. You could argue that this is because images often take longer to load, and because of the range of sizes and colors that show up in an image search, it is easier for the user to remember the location of the image in the UI.
When infinite scrolling works in UI design
Good examples of infinite scrolling feature on social networking sites such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter. This is because new information is being generated for the user all the time. On a home page, you can play with new ways to encourage your user to scroll further with CSS tricks. This is a more interactive way than having them click to reach another page. There are however some things to consider when creating your UI design. One of these is that users may expect to see a footer at the bottom of the page. They will therefore become frustrated if they cannot reach this. Some designers suggest using a fixed footer, or including contact information, and other items that you would expect to see in a footer, at the top of the page. Also consider what will happen if a user clicks on an entry and then hits the back button. Users will become frustrated if they are brought back to the top of the page if they have spent time scrolling down for results. For an e-commerce site, this can have a negative impact, as users may not be able to find items they wanted to purchase.
To get to grips with the trend of infinite scrolling, take a look at a few examples. This type of UI design is often specific to context. Look to see whether an infinite page length will increase discovery of information, or could lead to possible frustration for your users. A possible compromise is to let the user choose whether they would like for more information to be shown. You can do this by creating a button on the page and letting more information appear. That way, they do not become too overwhelmed with information, but can decide if they would like to see more information.
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