Against Infinite Scroll

I was recently part of a Cooper Slack conversation about infinite scrolling navigation.

“I hate infinite scroll,” I said. 

“👆,” several people responded. 

“But why?” asked someone else.

In my worldview, infinite scroll has three major failings. I’ve listed them here from least to most important. 

1. It’s nominally seamless 

I have yet to see an implementation of infinite scroll that doesn’t include awkward lags and delays when loading additional content. 

2. It lacks landmarks 

Any potential seams are unintentional and devoid of meaning. If I want to go back to something, I can’t think oh, that was on page two. There is no page two. 

A colleague suggested, “Shouldn’t that be handled by search?” 

“[reference to a movie]”, I responded. 

Search won’t help me find something like, let’s say, it looked a little bit like a circle with something in the middle, and I think it had the word strategy in it. 

More importantly: Why should I, the user, have to change what I’m doing? The site is the one that sucks. 

I don’t want to be forced into changing my entire mode of interacting. I’ve already once encountered the thing I’d like to encounter again, and the simplest form of navigation – the thing I’m already doing – can help me achieve my goal. Why should I have to switch from navigation to search?

3. It’s a dark pattern 

This is the most egregious failure of infinite scroll. It’s designed to have no intentional seams and no logical stopping points. In other words, it’s designed to be a time suck. To put it bluntly, it places the goals of the business above human goals like do something with my life that isn’t moving one finger and blinking.

“You should write a blog post about this,” a colleague said. 

Shahrzad Samadzadeh

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