Endless scrolling: the genius move that allows users to simply scroll infinitely through content without having to ever press a next button. “Genius!” one might say. “Needs work!” I say. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it as much as the next content-consuming junkie. That is, until it breaks; until you scroll for 5,000 pixels and want to see that thing you saw a while back up there. Not so fast, there are no pages. Have fun scrolling. Remember to write home, tell us how the weather is.
Endless scrolling, with its nice perks, is not without its seriously poor usability issues. Here’s another sticky situation you might find yourself in: scroll, scroll, scroll, click interesting post, read, watch, look … oops, bad move. Click back in your browser, start over at the top, cue the “Fuuuuuu-” meme.
Another one if you’re not convinced: I’m not sure what kind of device you’re reading this article on, but chances are you don’t have an endless amount of processing power. Say you have 100 photos, animated GIFs, or videos in your “scroll history.” These kind of assets all stacked up on a single page can slow down any upstanding browser, no matter the power of the CPU. As I’m not so sure browser crashes are good for user experience.
Tumblr handles this whole problem alright, allowing the user to “endless scroll” while converting the position down the page into individual pages so that when you do click into a post and then proceed to go back in your browser, you go back to around where you were last. This sort of takes care of the Fuuuuuu- Argument, but I’ve seen it have its glitches. Worthy to note: Tumblr is a pretty big operation with great developers always making the Tumblr browsing experience the best possible one for their users. The problem really exists in Tumblr themes or in blogs with less time and money invested in usability. The really bad news is that this problem is one that is becoming popular, thus becoming a growing issue across the web.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, endless scrolling. It’s actually luxurious and an incredibly easy way to look through content. Perhaps browser technologies or those really smart developers that make the internet work just have to catch up to fixing these issues, but before they’re fixed, I can’t really get behind any kid of endless scrolling environment.