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.

Pinterest is brilliant because it solves the tagging problem and makes it mainstream


Source: via Greg on Pinterest

For a couple of weeks now I’ve been hearing about Pinterest. The references have run the gamut from fawning tech portrayals of the service (“Fastest to 10 million users in history”) to shares from Facebook friends about how they start Pinning and just can’t stop until hours later. Clearly, Pinterest has become an important site to many people, but why? And what does it mean for the larger trend of how we characterize, organized, and build information?

Pinterest is brilliant because it turns a geeky process – arranging like things by using “tags”, “word clouds”, “memes” and word names – into a visual process that anyone can do easily. Pinterest allows you to visually tag well, anything. This is cool both because many people (and mostly, so far, women) are clearly interested in sharing chocolate hacks, cute DIY pillows, and new fashion looks, and not as interested as categorizing for a system that these might be posts about food recipes, home crafts, and fashion trends. All of these represent a gold mine for retailers and interest graph mappers of all kinds.

Pinterest also is very cool because it’s taken a social process (I have an interest and want to share it) and combined with social distribution (it’s easy to share through Facebook, Twitter, and of course, through Pinterest) and made it very very very easy to use. This means that UX designers in particular should consider using a visual matching process in favor of a “pick this item from a list” display in the future to get better user adoption.

Retailers (especially those who sell products that you can see and touch) should be especially excited about Pinterest because it gives them a way to access a community starved for mix-and-match looks. In the same way that companies and brands have started to build communities on Instagram with photos of their ideas and products, I think it’s likely that “community ambassadors” and brand champions will emerge as design superstars from the Pinterest community (if it hasn’t happened already.) Does this mean that Pinterest replaces existing brand outlets on Twitter, Facebook, etc? I don’t think so – I think it’s just another way for the customer to own and shape the brand experience.

And this leads me to the inevitable “what’s next” question: will people get tired of Pinterest? (who knows – I don’t think it’s super-important at the moment.) The real “a-ha” here is that people like to categorize information visually. Call it “micro-scrapbooking,” “pinning”, or just arranging the things you like together – the people at Pinterest have come up with a dynamite model for gathering, organizing, and sharing like visual information. It will be particularly interesting to see if Pinboards emerge as a model for organizing metaconcepts like “Customer Service” or “Branding” – and turn into de facto micro-blogs or distribution networks for other content -or whether they stay individually focused on the interests of the Pinners.

It’s Harder to make UX Content than You Think

(courtesy of brartist)

Recently (this evening, in fact) I found myself in front of the computer, script in hand, ready to compose an award-winning piece of user content.  Unfortunately, when I looked at my first (and second draft) of the masterpiece, I found that my rosy reflection had become a harsh reality.  It’s harder to make UX content than you think.  What seems to be an easy script reveals itself when you speak the lines out loud, and then when you watch the instructional content from the perspective of a user, you realize the things you’ve forgotten.

Here are a few suggestions for making your user content more effective.  First, write the script and edit it. You may think that you can write the script once and forget it, but a “measure twice, cut once” mentality never hurts.  When you are reading your script after the first draft, think about the key points you are going to make at each point in the instructional content, and mark them in the script so that you have a visual cue to sell the idea at the point when you need to make it.

The second thing you need to do is to storyboard your visuals.  Many instructional designers I’ve worked with (and I fall prey to the same malady) believe that they can improvise on the fly and get both the visual and the meaning behind that visual across to the viewer.  This is a really tough sell, and it’s a lot easier to create a highlight around an idea if you know where the visual highlight might be at the same time (and to not have both of them compete.

The third thing you need to for great UX Content is to record your screencast a few times.  Walk through it the first time while recording, and don’t worry about the mistakes.  After reviewing the rough draft, try it again while attempting to emphasize the points at which you earlier marked for emphasis.  And then try a third (or fourth) time for polish.

When you’re done writing, editing, storyboarding, and practicing, you need to do some post-production work to make your UX content sing.  For most pieces, using TechSmith’s Camtasia is perfectly adequate (and dead easy).  Camtasia allows you to edit out some rough patches in your audio or video, to add a few effects, and to get the whole thing done and export in less time than a fancy solution might take you.  Even though it’s harder to make UX content than you think, you shouldn’t get hung up on making the perfect content.  The underlying software or service will change soon anyway, and then it will be time for you to get more practice as an instructional technology professional.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: