Scrolling, for all intents and purposes, is the most desirable form of navigation for websites and user experience (UX). Pages 1, 2, 3 and so on are yesterday’s design trend. Scrolling navigation is easy, it’s effective, and people are drawn to it to find the content that they want. It’s just the new norm.
However, there are those who see an opportunity for choice in the matter, a choice to click through and choose their own content path. That challenger is the use of multi-page design or, simply, pagination for its almost-equal effectiveness, attractive draw, and ability to get profitable results.
Let’s see how they both weigh in:
Scrolling Website Navigation
Easy User Experience: Scrolling creates one of the easiest user experiences available. Modern mobile web design and Facebook (today’s top social media platform) have adopted the scroll as their modus operandi, and for good reason. Whether on a mouse or a smartphone, scrolling is user-friendly.
Upfront Content: With a single page to load, there are no lines and no waiting for your website content. Mission statements, testimonials, product descriptions – scrolling allows you to group many different smaller pieces of information together on one page and reduce any friction for your users, not forcing them to search and click through to another page.
E-Commerce Checkout: That’s right. In a study, A/B testing found 21.8% more people responded to single-page checkout URL. People were less likely to complete the sale if they had to click through multiple pages.
Infinite Scrolling: Some people take scrolling too far. Some (like celebrity gossip pages) opt for infinite scrolling pages that never let you touch the bottom, and frustrate users until they just leave. If you are thinking about implementing infinite scrolling, take a deep breath, and just don’t. Sometimes a topic needs its own page to focus on.
Information Overload: Presenting too much information and making your page too long, even with scrolling, can make reading feel like a chore. They’re not necessarily interested in seeing ALL of your content, so they just leave the site if they feel overwhelmed.
Scrolling website navigation is a great way to keep readers engaged, as it offers an easy, efficient way for customers to explore your site. Fewer interruptions means fewer opportunities to click away. However, endless scrolling has its downsides, risking overwhelming and overloading your consumers.
Pagination in Website Design
E-Commerce Products: For many products or services, multiple pages may be the way to go. A neat set of pages with 20 items each may be preferable to a bottomless page of item listings. Similarly, even without e-commerce capabilities, if you have much to say about one product in particular – due to its complicated nature or setting the right expectations – devoting an entire page to it will go a long way (for clients and your SEO).
Search Engines & Analytics: When your site has multiple pages, it is easier to gauge user behavior through individual page analytics. When you can see users visiting multiple pages of your site and how they travel through your content, you get better insight into your customers and how to better serve them.
Guidance: A clear multi-page sitemap gives the type of guidance people need to immediately locate and click to the information that they are interested in. When a visitor is on a mission, they want to get to the point, not scroll through every piece of detail to get to the part they came to read.
Friction: Friction describes any part of the user experience that impedes the ability to locate or consume content. When a website visitor has to keep clicking to get to what they’re looking for, they experience friction and are more likely to give up. Multiple pages also lead to longer load (and wait) times, even more opportunity to lose customers.
“Fat Fingers:” Clicking on links on mobile devices adds another level of effort for even the best-laid websites. Having to precisely touch a small link can be tricky, and frustrating when a user “fat-fingers” it and accidentally hits the wrong button. Pagination is not always ideal for smartphones and tablets.
The Design Decision:
The truth is, scrolling versus pagination all comes down to the specific use of your website, your audience, and what you are aiming to achieve. For e-commerce experiences, sales, and crystal clear analytics, pagination is the way. For a more streamlined user experience and upfront viewing of your important content, scrolling is almost always the safe bet.