Good Or Bad? Infinite Scrolling

Thanks to Pinterest, many websites think it’s cool to provide the ability to infinitely scroll down a page. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a variety of tutorials that explain how you can add this functionality to WordPress themes. However, I’m wondering if this is just one of those trends that will go away once Pinterest dies off. For sites such as Pinterest where it makes sense to have an infinite scroll, does it make sense to have that functionality on a regular blog or any other type of website? There is one issue that was brought up within one of the tutorials that I read that mentioned that this technique if done improperly would not scale well. However, Pinterest appears to be doing just fine and they are generating millions of pageviews a week.

What about pagination? If infinite scroll is introduced to a website, does that negate the need to even have traditional pagination? I would hope so considering I’d hate to be limited to viewing the archive of posts by wearing out my scroll wheel. What are your thoughts on the infinite scroll?

[poll id=”44″]

29 responses to “Good Or Bad? Infinite Scrolling”

  1. I would say that since I have a Magic Mouse from Apple, I’m more worried about my scroll finger wearing out before my scroll “wheel.” However, I gotta say, I wasn’t a big fan of infinite scroll when google introduced it to it’s search results, but I WAS a fan when they implemented the functionality on their image search. It makes sense to have it on image search, because you are quickly glancing over images, looking for the one you want, but search results (or blog posts for that matter) require a little more attention, and it isn’t really appropriate for those situations. However, I have heard that some people enjoy, so if I were to implement it, I would default to traditional pagination, but have the option for the user to enable the infinite scroll if they so desired.

  2. I’ll admin, I saw it, I tried it. I removed it…. it got old quickly, and it’s not my thing.
    I’m not sure that visitors ‘get it’ for regular blogs/sites yet… so you’ve gotta explain/indicate the behaviour, or provide quality options for getting to your content.
    I’ll stick to plain old page numbers for now.

  3. I am old fashioned, as much as it looks pretty etc. I get cramp in my finger from excessive mouse usage. Prefer the old click for next page routine, has served me for an age. Not about to change now. Pagination for me, all the way.

  4. There’s a time and place for everything. I don’t think infinite scroll works well for standard blog post views. It would be better to show better, sortable results in the first place.

    However this should have a place in a few more customizable WP and BuddyPress sites. Infinite scroll and activity streams are a good fit to me.

  5. I myself couldn’t care less as long as there is other views to still move around the website. Problem I do see happening however is people putting things like copyright or ad into the footer – no one would ever see it!

    As long as I do not have to scroll down for ages just to be able to find a post I like the look off. I would hate a website that uses infinite scrolling and displays the full post.

  6. There are some sites and implementations where infinite scroll makes sense. Pintrest. Twitter. Facebook. Forward-reading story sites (start at page 1 and read to page 200).

    There are also implementations where it makes no sense … like the traditional reverse-chronological feed of a blog/news site home page. Or a resume. Or anything really that silos content by page.

    Does it make sense to enable infinite scroll by default in a WordPress theme? No. It all depends (as always) on what you’re using the theme to power.

  7. Personally, I dislike the feature, but it does work better on some sites than others. Pinterest and Twitter use the technique appropriately. Facebook on the other hand, does not. Why do I say that? Have you tried to access the links they place at the very bottom of the page? It’s impossible when content is being continually added, pushing those links out of view time and time again.

    I don’t mind having content immediately available in one place, but make me click to show more, don’t just automatically continue to dump content in as I near the bottom.

    That being said, I have a hard time seeing it becoming widely accepted for blog use. There may be a handful of unique situations out there where it works well, but I don’t foresee it becoming the standard (fingers crossed!).

    Of course, it’s all a ploy to keep you immersed in the content longer. You get sucked into reading/viewing content and before you know it, you’ve gone through the equivalent of 20 pages of content when you might not have normally clicked past page 1.

  8. What @otto said.

    Often I hit ‘end’ to see the end of a page where the footer links should be, and the expected ‘about/contact/I’m a dink’ links are. Pisses me off when it’s not there. TWITTER.

    But. For Twitter? Okay, yeah. Similiarly FB. I can see if working well on a P2 blog. But not for everyone.

  9. i’m not sure if I misunderstood, but when I looked in Google Analytics within the page speed section, it seems to shows a really long load time (22 seconds and over) for ‘page 2’ on my blog. In theory a ‘page 2’ shouldn’t exist with infinite scrolling, so it seems to confuse GA and in turn could/will penalise the site for being slow…

  10. @Eric Mann – This is exactly what AutoMATTic is doing at Infinite scrolling is being implemented site wide and there is no opt out except for cases where themes have footer widgets (apparently they have not found out how to retain those and have infinite scrolling). There will be a handful of the themes that will not get infinite scrolling because it makes no sense, but those will be rare. What’s more, you can’t even choose how many posts you want to show or per load. It is 7 and if you don’t like that you are SOL.

    One size does not fit all, and especially on image heavy sites where users might put multiple large sized images in each post, they typically will limit the number of posts per page to 2 or 3. Can’t do that anymore. There are also those that want to have more control over how their stuff is presented and infinite scrolling simply doesn’t work for them. AutoMATTic refers to them as “edge cases” and the law seems to be that you can then just ignore them.

  11. I have never been a fan of it. But like mentioned above, it does makes sense for Image searches. But elsewhere, I don’t think it’s appropriate. A friend of mine fancies tumblr for the infinite scrolling (well, it’s sort of something you need to do manually) – but there’s no page 2 on the dashboard there. Sadly, the little netbook she’s using couldn’t handle it and had the browser crashed. Not so fancy.

  12. I hate infinite scrolling. I have to deal with this misfeature on Twitter, and it drives me crazy never knowing how many pages of tweets I’ve read so far, not to mention when the AJAX fails temporarily, leaving me with absolutely no other way to advance. The Web has links for a reason, people! And I hate to think of what it does to my browser’s memory usage.

  13. I’m not a fan of it. A couple of questions:

    * How does it rate in terms of accessibility (e.g. for non mouse users, visually impaired, etc.)?
    * If there’s a footer area, how do you get to it? (see Snat’s and Ipstenu’s comment above)
    Facebook caused this frustration for me, where the “help” link was in the footer but posts kept appearing, due to infinite scrolling, and I couldn’t reach the link.

  14. @Snat – Agreed. The footer is an important part of most websites. If someone is looking to implement infinite scroll, you would have to say goodbye to your footer.

    Also, use common sense while implementing this feature. If you have a photography website, it would look cool there, but if you have a serious website for example about finance, then it would look very immature.

    It’s a cool feature no doubt, but it’s not for everyone.

  15. In most situations there is no way to bookmark or easily come back to a specific section of the page. You have to start over every time. I watched a buddy of mine click a link on what would have been about page 15 if normal pagination were used. When he clicked the back button, he had to start all the way back at the beginning. Now image all the fun he was having when he got down to page 25 and accidentally did it again.

  16. I agree with what Ipstenu said…it’s horrible when you try to get to the about/contact/etc. sections of a page and can’t because of this feature.
    Also, it’s pretty horrible on sites where photos and large images are part of the content. When a picture loads, it moves whatever text you’re reading. When you scroll down to find where you last left off, MORE content starts loading. I find it more frustrating than helpful.

  17. I think it is okay.
    As long as the page loads relatively quickly, it actually saves the time and necessity of having to click and browse multiple pages — something a slower-loading site may have bad luck with.
    Either way, I’m good with long, scrolling pages, just as much as I’m good with clicking through pages ;-)

  18. Aside from the annoyance of not being able to get to the links in the footer, whether we think it is good is a moot point. The more users interact and interconnect and integrate between desktop and mobile, the more they’ll get used to infinite scrolling with on a mobile platform is the norm. And, since the world is going mobile by leaps and bounds, infinite scrolling will become de facto, the correct way of handling pages. The only question is how best to present it. The more tag – accordion – or some other creative way.

  19. Personally I’m not a fan of infinite scroll in a blog setting. On my site both my Pinterest board and recent tweets sit in the footer area in order to conserve space elsewhere, and I do want people to see both of those – it’s a further enticement for them to follow me on those other platforms.


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