Customer Experience

Infinite scroll must go



A great design for endless browsing

There’s a signature design that I am sure you’ve seen more than once today. It’s a river of information; it’s endless serotonin; it’s sort of pleasing to the eye; and then it never ends.

“Infinite scroll” as a user experience style expects that you will be spending hours in the app or web site. More importantly even if you have (almost) endless time, the UX doesn’t give you many visual clues to know “you’re done … you can start a different mode of browsing now … perhaps even blink a few times.”  

It feels awesome the first time you use Infinite Scroll. And then you start wondering: when will the page ever end? Am I missing something important at the bottom of the page? What was I doing when I started browsing? 

What might work better?



There’s another pattern you should consider using, popularized originally by Twitter. Pull-to-Refresh prompts you to “pull” the screen down to trigger a data refresh and limits the amount of information returned in any one action. “Pull-to-refresh” is a much better design pattern than infinite scroll because it does many of the same things that Infinite Scroll does well:

  • Shows you a lot of content in each “page” of views
  • Gives you access to rich cards of data 
  • Is almost-instant given a good network connection

And Pull-to-refresh as a UI pattern does a few things better, particularly:

  1. It fails gracefully with low network: it shows you that it is trying to pull your request with a visible spinner at the top of the user interface
  2. It lets you rest: no more FOMO (fear of missing out) when you’re not sure that you’ve reached the bottom of the available page
  3. Friendlier to new customers: older consumers in particular may find the concept of an unending river of information disorienting

So what? An interface is an interface.

Design is integral to the choices we make every day. The more work we do to limit cognitive load and decision making, the easier it will be to use information-rich panels in more areas of our lives.

If you disagree, go read this post on choice closure to understand the psychological importance of finishing a unit of work. Done > Perfect, even when it comes to scrolling a page.

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