When you surf through the internet ocean, you notice two types of content organization. We enjoy endless feeds on Facebook or Twitter that reveal new and new stories when we roll the mouse wheel. And we quickly find new headphones on Amazon thanks to the clear hierarchy of the page structure.
Both infinite scroll and pagination have pros and cons. The choice depends mainly on the purpose and content of your web resource. As a design agency, Arounda usually considers user priorities to make the best choice from the UX perspective.
A pagination is a browsing approach where an extended subset of data is split into pages. A site displays the number of available pages, and a user can jump between them by clicking on numbers. It’s easy to imagine pagination when you recall the Google search result output. There are about ten results on the first page, ten more on the second, and so on.
This content organization's advantage is that users know precisely where they are and how to reach the information they are looking for among the sorted pages. That is why pagination is typical for themed sites and almost inevitable for the e-commerce industry, where shoppers must be able to find the most appropriate product as quickly as possible.
Infinite scroll, on the other hand, displays new records with content gradually and seamlessly when a user scrolls to the end of the first portion of data. The page seems to have no bottom, and the information appears as a smooth infinite flow.
This type of browsing was invented for mobile devices where clicking on the menu items might be irritating. However, infinite scroll is perfectly compatible with the entertaining content of new portals, social networking sites, and photography stocks. It is supposed that visitors don’t search for any particular content and want to explore the resource freely.
Now that you know the main difference between the two browsing types, we will discuss their advantages and disadvantages from different angles and provide infinite scroll pagination examples.
Studies show that people eat more food than usual when getting bigger portions initially. In the same way, when users scroll and discover immersive information without limit, they consume more content. Scrolling is like a bottomless bowl of your favorite meal. How can you resist?
Unlike scrolling, pagination doesn't trigger addictive usage patterns. Visitors stay on the site because it’s useful and return consciously if they expect to find what they need once more.
For the majority, scrolling comes easier than clicking. New content appears automatically with a simple flick of a finger. Users appreciate this fast and responsive browsing experience and come for more.
On the other hand, people also tend to control their time and effectiveness online. Pagination allows them to see the total amount of information and estimate how long it will take to get to a result. If the page structure is well-organized, users will easily click pages.
Imagine a traveler who is searching for a hotel to stay in between flights in Rome. They have no time to marvel never-ending list of all possible apartments. Instead, they pick the city and the date and choose the most suitable place to stay. If the traveler finds a nice hotel, they click the page and expects to find it there later after he refreshes the browser.
Pagination is the default site organization structure in website builders, blogging platforms, and CMS. You can add new pages, edit menus, or change the main page in seconds without writing a line of code.
Conversely, implementing infinite scrolling requires extended features of the web builder or a developer who can write a script for a site. So you should include these expenses in your budget.
It’s better to set the frame for your web resource once and for all. The content transition from the pagination structure to scrolling and vice versa is not an automated process. It’s manual, complicated, and costly.
Sites with division into pages are typically easier to navigate. Users see the categorized content of the site at once. There are top menus with services and product descriptions and filters that help to find particular products or information. A footer menu with CTAs, social pages, and contact information is also great for site navigation.
Scrolling doesn’t allow users to jump to a specific page. When they reach a helpful point in the stream, they cannot bookmark the place and return later. Instead, visitors who leave the site lose progress and must scroll for the second time. Or they have to rely on search engines of the resource.
Very often, beauty depends more on content type rather than browsing type. Photo-sharing portals like Unsplash, portfolios in Behance exchange, and other websites with bright visuals often use scrolling techniques.
The dark side of the endless visual content is the increase in page loading time. When multiple users scroll down the page, data exceeds the loading threshold and performance slows down.
Both representation methods look aesthetic when done right. But when comparing text pagination or table pagination vs infinite scroll the latter will result in a longer loading time.
Your SEO strategy will be different for the paginated and scrolling sites. Keep in mind that Google’s website crawlers can’t scroll. They discover what’s on top. This means that the essential part of the content will fall out of the search index.
To fix this bug, you can build component pages with paginated series that will complement infinite scroll. Google will recognize them as indexable content, and you will use the ranking potential wisely. Another trick is implementing a ‘read more’ button and putting most keywords before it.
SEO for classical paginated sites is typical because the Googlebot will crawl through the whole page and index the content completely. So if you hesitate between pagination vs infinite scroll vs load more, know that the first option will bring you more recognition in Google search.
The main criterium that defines the browsing type is the site content.
Pagination works best when the user searches for a definite product or information, not just scrolls aimlessly. If you expect people to make a decision - don’t let them drown in a content pile. Use logical structure to help visitors get where they want.
There are only a few cases where infinite scrolling helps reach results. This happens mainly when your aim is to entertain and captivate users' attention. Platforms with user-generated content, such as Pinterest, Quora, or Facebook, are great examples of how this browsing method matches the idea.
The choice between pagination vs. infinite scroll depends on your business and how your clients perceive content. You shouldn’t copy what is popular. We hope that our article provides enough information for you to make a well-considered decision. But if you need expert advice to reaffirm your conclusions, we are ready to help.
Arounda team has been in product design for more than five years. We started with web and app design and then extended to branding and product strategy as we realized that UI and UX derive from the product’s purpose. Therefore, it’s vital to see the task as a whole to make an appropriate design. So if you need an experienced contractor, we are here for you.
Pagination helps users focus and complete their tasks. Scrolling offers the possibility to investigate the depth of the web resource.
Infinite scroll is better only for a few specific sites: social media, news platforms, photo and user profile exchanges.
Pagination is not the best option when you want to hold the user on your resource for as long as possible. Scrolling is more addictive and makes people spend more time and consume more information.
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