You've got to scroll with it: Death of Pagination
by David Dwyer on 17/05/2014
The Rise & Rise of the Infinite Scroll - it's not a big deal after all
In an earlier blog I wrote about how important it is to make your website ‘sticky’: to give users plenty of interesting content to engage with and return to, or to make their experience so enjoyable that they’re able – and willing – to spend lots of time on your site.
The theory behind the need for ‘stickiness’ is simple: if users stay on your website for longer, come back to it frequently, or find it easy to use, they’ll make more purchases, bookings or enquiries than they might otherwise have done if they were just dipping in and out.
As e-commerce develops, web designers like Inspire are finding new ways to keep users from closing their browsers before they make a purchase. One area of usability that’s currently receiving a lot of attention is how – and how many – items are displayed at any one time on a retail website.
In the ‘olden days’ of the web (by which I mean about two years ago), retail websites limited themselves to displaying perhaps one or two dozen items in a very rigid pagination scheme. Upon completing your search or choosing a product category, you’d be shown an initial selection of items. To view the other dresses, cars or BBQs the retailer sold you’d have to click a button on the bottom of the first display page to ‘view more’. A dozen or so more dresses, cars or BBQs would then appear, but you’d have to repeat the process until you got to the very last page. It wasn't uncommon to have 20 or more ‘pages’ to push through until you got to the end.
For the user, this process was time consuming and frustrating, especially if their chosen shop had a lot of stock to show off. From the retailer’s perspective, the ‘show more’ approach only allowed them to display a small section of their stock at any one time, and made it difficult for consumers to compare products.
But we’ve now emerged from the dark days of such rigid pagination into the brave new world of ‘infinite scroll’. With faster Internet connections, faster image loading and a growing familiarity with ecommerce, users are no longer afraid of what lurks at the bottom of one very, very long page. Infinite scroll also suits tablets and smartphones, and allows users to browse through all a retailer’s goods with the flick of their finger.
A good example of the infinite scroll in action is a website we developed a few months ago for a womenswear retailer in Perth. When you choose to view a certain type of clothing or accessory on the Loretta’s Collections website, all the items in that particular category appear on one long page. If you’re looking for hats, you’ll see all of Loretta’s hats, not just a dozen of them. Likewise for her casual wear or mother of the bride dresses. There’s no need to stutter back and forth ‘viewing more’ selections, 20 at a time.
Web analytics are now so sophisticated that IT professionals like Inspire can tell how long an individual users spends on any given website, or even part of a website, see Crazy Egg for excellent heatmap analysis. Our studies show that users spend more time on sites with more content; it only follows that if there’s more for them to see (and their concentration or focus is not diverted/interrupted by looking for the next page button), there will likely be more for them to like, and ultimately buy.
Switching to an ‘infinite scroll’ approach to displaying your goods is quick, easy, affordable and effective. It’s also suitable for all business sectors, not just retail. So if you want to keep potential customers’ eyes on your website for longer, roll with the scroll.
David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David’s academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.
Customer Acquisition Cost, Customer Experience, CX, Developer SOS, e-commerce, e-tailers, Inspire Web Development, m-commerce, Responsive Web Design, Sticky Websites, The Evolving Web, Web Design, Website Content