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The Long and the Short of the Long Scroll

Hi, my name is _____, I like sunsets, pumpkin lattes and long scrolls on the web”

Back in the day it was a real no-no to create a long scrolling page – the fear was that people would miss all the information ‘below the fold’. But the days of the two-paragraph page are fading, and the age of the scrolling page are now upon us.

Yes, but what is a long scrolling page?

A scrolling page means that instead of breaking associated content up into separate pages that only fill what the user can see at first glance (above the fold), you are breaking content up into easily digestible bites that scroll down a single page. This keeps the user interested and able to read through a lot of content with ease, with the added bonus of not having to click on a “next page” button and having to wait for this new page of content to load.

The long scroll page structure is perfect for landing pages or service offering pages where you are often dealing with one overall concept that has many elements that can be broken out in chunks for the user to absorb and piece together to form a compelling overview.

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Dennis Erokan speaker landing page

Above is an example from our website – this is a landing page for Dennis Erokan’s speaking services. The scrolling page technique is great for breaking up the content so at a glance you can see what you will learn from his talk, a little info about him, speaking topics, testimonials and then a form. Nice big clear separators so that you can read the things you are interested in.

The Infinite Scroll

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Pinterest infinite scrolling page of kittens! Win!

There is nothing worse than having to click on the “next” button when you are one-handedly trying to shop online whilst holding on for dear life as your train makes a sudden stop. The infinite scroll is a common trend that started up a while back with the increased use of smart phones. The premise behind it is, as the user scrolls through content, more content is loaded and served up to the user therefore eliminating the click action and consequently the wait for a new page of content to load. Woot! More is better ….right? Well, in some cases, yes, but is some cases, not so much, but we will get to that later.

A great use for the infinite scroll is on e-commerce sites. When you are committed to that search for spandex tights covered with kitten faces you want the giant list of options at your fingertips, you are hoping it will be several pages worth of total awesome just waiting to be scrolled though. This is the perfect use for the infinite scroll, welcome to consumer paradise – no need to hit the next button, just days of products to scroll through without having to click for more.

Image heavy sites likes Pinterest and Instagram take this idea of infinite scrolling to the next level. You can spend hours just scrolling through a never-ending tsunami of imagery and inspiration. The use of infinite scroll here makes it easy to scan a huge amount of data in record time with just a flick of the thumb (or roll of the mouse wheel).

Make It Stop!

OK, so we know the infinite scroll is just magical for some applications, but where does it all go wrong.

Some believe that with the old-school format of creating small pages for each different content idea the user is in control of where they want to go and they know what to expect when they click on a page title. If a page just keeps scrolling and there is no end in sight it can make some users actually lose interest or focus. There is definitely credit in this point-of-view. I have visited a couple of sites that after scrolling for what seems like an eternity I have forgotten what I was looking for in the first place! It is important not to overwhelm the user, and this is exactly why Google has not made the move to infinite scrolling – they have stuck with their pagination display when it comes to search results so that the user is in control. They can choose to see more results, but it allows them to keep track of where they are within them.

Is The Scroll Right For You?

Overall, long and infinite scrolling pages are trending right now. This on its own is a selling point for choosing this format as it does add a contemporary vibe to your site, showing that you are aware of current trends. However, the decision to deal with page content in this longer scrolling format depends on:

  • what experience you want for your user
  • whether having a site that works well on mobile devices is important to you
  • what content you have and whether it lends itself to be displayed in this format

If you do decide to travel in this direction, you can also just use it where it makes sense. We have created many sites for our clients that have predominantly short pages but there are some key landing pages that have utilized this long scroll technique to break out related information into a set of easily interpreted blocks.

Just remember, it is important to keep the content on a scrolling page relevant, clear and engaging. Try not to deal with too many different concepts that bounce the user around on a single page. You want them to be able to follow the story and enjoy it!


 

Post by Jannah Lyon, creative director and avid scroller at Placemaking Group.

You may also want to read:

Prepare for a Smooth Landing: Creating Landing Pages that Get Results

1 Response

  1. Nicholas F.

    The long scroll is interesting. I have also noticed that it is becoming more and more common on websites. What I think is key to perfecting the long scroll is like what you wrote, “breaking content up into easily digestible bites.” Clarity and conciseness are the keys to having a successful long scroll since it is easier for the brain to process things when they are clear and fluid. The example you gave on the Dennis Erokin page is perfect. Although it is a long scroll, it is still broken up into smaller concise parts which in doing so helps the page stay fluid.

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