UX: Pagination vs Infinite Scrolling
Should you use Infinite Scrolling or Pagination for your content? It is still confusing to most of us to decide which to implement into the projects. Both have their strengths and weakness so here we will overview both the methods and decide which method is best suited for various occasions.
Pagination is the process of dividing content into discrete pages. When you scroll to the bottom of a page and see the sequence of numbers, that sequence of numbers is a site’s or app’s pagination.
Pros of Pagination
Good Conversion: Pagination is good when you are searching for something in particular within the list of result and not just scanning and going through the flow of information. When we have a large list of products, it makes sense not to display all the content at once. By providing information in smaller chunks, you allow the users to read the page easily and make sure they focus on the important part of the page (i.e. call to actions) by reducing scrolling.
Sense of Control: When users know the number of results available, they are able to make more informed decision, rather than be left to scour an infinite scrolling list. When you reach an end-point, it gives you the sense of control. It is easier for the users to determine if what they are seeking is there or not when they have limited but relevant results.Another plus point is that, the users will be able to estimate how much time it will take to find what they are actually looking for when they see total number of results.
Content Location: Pagination lets the user keep a mental location of the item. Users may not remember the exact page number but they will roughly remember what it was and this paginated links will help them get there easily. With pagination, users are in control of the navigation as they know which page to click on to get back where they previously were.
Pagination is good for e-commerce sites and apps as they may want to be able to come back to a particular page they left off and continue with their shopping.
Cons of Pagination
Extra Actions: If pagination is used, the users has to first find the link target, hover the mouse over it, click on it and wait until the new page loads. The major issue here is that most of the sites show very limited content with a single page. If the pages are longer, users will get more content per page and they won’t have to click or tap the pagination button as much.
A technique that allows users to scroll through a massive chunk of content with no finishing line. It is like a game that never ends. It keeps refreshing the page when you scroll down. This technique may sound tempting, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every site or app.
Pros of Infinite Scrolling
Content Discovery: When scrolling is used as the prime method of exploring the data, it may make the users to stay longer on your page, hence increasing the engagement. When there is a huge ocean of data; infinite scrolling offers an efficient way to browse the data, without having to wait for pages to pre-load. When the users are not sure of what they are specifically looking for, it is necessary to show them a large amount of information. For example, take a look at Facebook; even though, the content is updated too frequently, Facebook is doing its best to expose as much information as possible to the users.
Scrolling is better than clicking: Users have better experience with scrolling than with clicking as scrolling is faster than clicking For lengthy content, scrolling provides even better usability than slicing up the text to several separate screens or pages.
Scrolling is good for mobile devices: The significant supporter of long scrolling is due to the popularization of mobile browsing. Gesture control on mobile devices makes scrolling intuitive and easy to use. The users enjoy a truly responsive experience from whatever device they are using.
Cons of Infinite Scrolling
Page Performance: For good user experience, page loading speed is of great value. Various researches have shown that slow load time results in user leaving the website or deleting the page resulting in low conversion rates which is a bad news for those who uses infinite scrolling. As the user scrolls down the page, more and more content has to be loaded on the same page. As a result of this, the page performance will slow down increasingly.
Item search and Location: One major issue with infinite scrolling is that when users get to a certain point, they cannot bookmark a particular location and come back later if required. They are bound to lose all the progress once they leave the site and will have to scroll down to come back to the same spot again. This causes annoyance and confusion to the users, affecting the overall user experience.This technique makes it difficult to move up and down the list, especially when you return to the page another time and find yourself at the top, forcing you to scroll down the list once again. In this way infinite scroll is slower than the paginated one.
Irrelevant Scrollbar: Scrollbars don’t reflect the actual amount of data available. Most of the times, you scroll down assuming that you are very close to the bottom but you will end-up scrolling even more. The results just get doubled by the time you reach a particular point on the page.
Lack of footer: Footers exist for a reason as they contain content that the user sometimes needs. If users can’t find something or they want additional information, they go there. In this technique, the footer gets pushed out of the view every time the users scroll down.
Sites that implement infinite scrolling should make the footer accessible by making it sticky or relocating the links to the top or side bar. One other solution is to load more content only when the users demand it by clicking on the “load more” button. This way users can get to the footer easily without have to chase it down.
When to use which technique?
There are very few instances where infinite scrolling is effective. It is best suited for sites and apps that boast user generated data (social networking sites).
Pagination is safe and good option for sites and apps that intend to satisfy the goal-oriented activities of the users.