Years ago, scrolling websites were taboo. Designers followed the setup that was initiated by print newspapers and put the most important information “above the fold” or at the top of the site. In the early days of the web site navigation was dominated by clicks and even today’s social media sites like Facebook still put the most relevant posts in the feed first. However, in recent years design has shifted to favor long scrolling websites. There are pros and cons to this site style which we outline below along with some best practices.
Users love scrolling websites and it has been proven that they lead to higher conversions and lower bounce rates. This is because users are happy to scroll if the information they are finding is interesting. In fact, putting some of the most interesting information toward the bottom of the page can increase the amount of time a user spends on your site. In addition, scrolling gives users a positive feeling of control that encourages them to remain on the site. From a practical standpoint, scrolling shows things faster than clicking page to page does, which prevents users from clicking away while waiting for a new page to load. In addition, mobile users have surpassed desktop users and scrolling is more natural on touchscreen devices. These many benefits are why long scrolling websites have remained popular over the past several years.
While there are many great things about long scrolling websites, there are also a few drawbacks. One significant problem is that these types of sites can make it more difficult to utilize SEO keywords because they limit the variety of keywords you can target. Additionally, long scroll websites make it more difficult to go back and see previous content because instead of using the back button users must spend time scrolling all the way back to the top. Large blocks of content or multimedia can also make scrolling sites slow to load which can be frustrating to users. Finally, there are some users who simply prefer the older, several page website style and have no desire to adapt to scrolling. If you design a long scrolling site this cohort of users will never be satisfied. Overall, we feel that these few negatives do not outweigh the many positives and favor this type of website. Read on to see some of our favorite tips for creating this type of site.
Here we summarize tips for using long scrolling from Web Design Trends 2015 & 2016.
1. Don’t overwhelm the user with content of the page. You can still have a horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page, but each of these should be scrolling rather than providing a drop down menu for each page.
2. Use both long with short scroll. You should base the scroll length off the content, rather than trying to tailor the content to the page you want to design. For example, your homepage may be shorter than your products page.
3. Use sticky navigation, perhaps a footer, so that users don’t get lost in the scrolling.
4. Including symbols such as arrows or animated buttons help users know how they should navigate the page. Some sites will even say “scroll for more” to explicitly explain to site users what they should be doing.
5. Use Google Analytics data to see how many people scroll below the fold. Based on the data, you can then tweak the design as necessary.
6. Don’t go crazy. Long scrolling should share the information you want to convey, but nobody wants to scroll through 100 pages of content, no matter how interesting you think it is.
7. Even long scrolling sites need navigation so users do not feel lost. Always keep their experience in mind.
We hope this post provides some insight into the long scrolling trend and maybe has even inspired you to implement this style on your own site. Need help with this processes? Contact us today!
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