Infinite Scrolling and Accessibility (It’s Usually Bad)

Experts say don’t do infinite scrolling, or be extremely careful in doing so. I completely agree. Infinite scrolling creates accessibility and usability problems. Below are checkpoints, issues and suggestions from a few resources.

Here’s a great list of checkpoints from the article So You Think You’ve Built a Good Infinite Scroll by Adrian Roselli (@aardrian):

  1. Can the user hit “back” and return to the exact same place?
  2. Is there paging for when the JavaScript breaks?
  3. Does the page have a footer?
  4. Can a keyboard user access all other content on the page?
  5. Can you share a URL to a specific place on the page?
  6. Can a user easily jump ahead a few “pages” to quickly get to content much further down the list?
  7. Does the memory footprint of the page dramatically increase after just a couple new “pages?”
  8. Is there a way to disable automatic infinite scrolling and lean on standard paging?
  9. Have you conducted any user tests?
  10. Are you satisfying a use case that has come from research or user request?
  11. Do you have any analytics/tracking to measure success?

In the article Infinite Scrolling: Let’s Get To The Bottom Of This, Smashing Magazine makes some great points including the following.

Fails: temptation, optimism, exhaustion, pogo-sticking, loss of control, distracting, unreachable

  • Users want immediate access to exclusive data.
  • Users want to feel in control.
  • Users often look for landmarks when scrolling.
  • Consider conventional pagination or a hybrid solution.
  • Provide interesting content without an ambiguous interface.
  • Users often expect a footer.
  • An infinite list is still a list.
  • Effects are nice to have but not a must.

In the Simply Accessible article Automatic infinite scrolling & accessibility, Derek Featherstone (@Feather) says:

  • Just don’t implement infinite scrolling.
  • Replace automatic infinite scrolling with a “Load more results…” button or link that explicitly invites the user to add more. Once they do a few times, prompt them to ask if they’d like to turn auto-loading of more results on.
  • No, really, just don’t implement infinite scrolling.

Further reading:

3 comments

  1. Pingback: Pagination vs. Scrolling: The Great Website Debate - Propel Marketing
  2. The-Internet-Has-Regressed

    Pleeeeease SOMEBODY create a way for Mac OS &/or Firefox-for-Mac (that non-techie people can understand & implement) to STOP or BLOCK Infinite Scrolling, especially on TWITTER & GOOGLE IMAGES. What a nightmare invention Infinite Scroll is (it’s as bad as “frames”!). I loathe both with a passion.

    I agree with every “No, really, just don’t implement infinite scrolling” that you wrote. Sadly, too many foolish sites are using it. Give me NEXT PAGE/Pagination option!

    And a plea to ALL wordpress.com-freebie-blog users: Do not use themes that force us to “infinite scroll.” I won’t visit your site again if you put me through that misery! (Choose themes with FOOTERS in which you can add at least ONE widget & that will STOP Infinite Scroll at those freebie-WP-blogs, like this blog, webaxe has done!)

    The internet seems to get worse & worse over the decades rather than better. The newer constant “spinning” sections on webpages totally stink & turn webpages into bloated hogs. Give me normal LINKS to click & normal NEXT PAGE options/links!

    My Motto: “Developers are Not Inventors but are Destroyers.”

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