Why scrolling is the new click
09 February 2016

Why scrolling is the new click

An ongoing debate in web design has been the scroll vs the click. Do users visiting a website prefer to scroll through a long page or click through to new pages? 2015 has possibly seen the demise of non scrolling websites, and for very good reasons. Regarding the question of scrolling vs. clicking I think we can safely say that a general consensus has now been reached: people scroll.

Usability studies have long shown that scrolling to consume content is generally faster than clicking. But it is not only faster to scroll than to click it is also easier, this is especially true for users viewing your website on a smartphones or when using a slow limited data network, when scrolling will always be preferred over loading a whole new page. If you find from your user statistics that your website is getting a high volume of mobile traffic then scrolling will be a lot less frustrating for users on any device. 

In web design we are increasingly seeing the use of long scrolling pages and vertical layouts on websites but this isn't just a fad it's a major usability decision. The use of vertical layouts and scrolling within a web page also has other advantages across all platforms, they can be a great tool for telling a story because they guide visitors from section to section until a goal is achieved. To make layouts more dynamic the web designer can also make use of animation and parallax effects as a way to enhance the story being told and make layouts more dynamic. Scrolling also allows the content to be spread out, allowing more options and visibility to content offers, buttons and forms.

Web sites still need web pages for the organisation of information and clicking has advantages for many interactions, for example to simplify forms and provide a sequenced information flow for an optimal e-commerce experience. However, the use of scrolling on websites continues to gain popularity due to its speed, ease, and flow when consuming content.  The bottom line is simply that it's faster to consume web content by scrolling than to click through pages.

In 2016 we will see people combining their web pages into longer ones with the use of dynamic scrolling effects. Scrolling is becoming an accepted practice but this doesn't mean we can discard information hierarchy and intuitive organized design with clear-cut clues to guide users through a website. As with all effects and animation, scrolling effects should be used in moderation. They can require too much page load time and may not function smoothly across all browsers if over-designed. When done well scrolling can create an engaging user experience for your website and augment the narrative of your site.

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