Many companies are undergoing major website redesigns. Some are driven by the passing of time and existing sites that are getting old and tired. Some are driven by Google’s new emphasis on usability and mobile-friendly. And, some redesigns are driven by SEOs who have been asking for this for years for the above reasons and are finally being heard. If you are going to the trouble of a redesign, do you homework, listen to your experts both on the SEO and the design side and spend the money to do it right this time.
One question that will likely come up during the redesign (or it should) is how to present content. Should it scroll on and on (infinitely) like Facebook, or should it be separated into logical chunks? That of course depends on the user and the intent of the search.
So what is Infinite Scroll? SitePoint defines it as, “A design pattern where content is fetched asynchronously from a database or master file and inserted into the user’s page as they consume information. This results in a seemingly endless page that continues to load content as the user scrolls towards the bottom.”
Start by asking what type of users you are targeting and designing the website for. Are they explorers, or are they goal-oriented?
Infinite scroll seems to be best suited for Explorers. Those looking for all the information they can find on a fairly narrow topic or category. For example, if you had a site about hiking the 14ers in Colorado (all the peaks 14,000 feet or higher), this type of user would be interested in all the information you have on the topic. It also works well for chronological information like Facebook or Twitter with a natural time flow that almost demands infinite scroll.
Goal-oriented users are looking for specific content or want to compare options. Endless scroll is NOT the best option for these users. They will be quickly frustrated. Sites that should avoid infinite scroll are e-commerce sites, news sites, or those providing information for basic queries with a specific goal or item in mind.
Aside from frustrating and confusing goal-oriented users, infinite scroll can also be bad for SEO. It can cause page speed issues. And, Google is leery of fully crawling infinitely scrolling content. What are they missing?
Organizing your content is critical to site usability and ranking factors. Work with your SEO from the outset and you will avoid many pitfalls that are difficult if not impossible to fix after the fact. They can help make sure that you don’t frustrate your users for the sake of some new cool technology. And, if you do decide to go the infinite scroll route, your SEO can help make sure you follow Google’s instructions to the letter.
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