The Benefits of Scroll Focused Web Designs

By Ugly Duck Staff - January 24th, 2017 in Web Design

The debate on scrolling has been discussed thoroughly among web designers everywhere and though each company may have their preference and opinion, what it really comes down to is what is the best option for the client.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of both the scroll-oriented approach and the click-oriented approach. We will also address some questions that you should ask yourself or your client when trying to decide which approach to take.

What is A Scrolling Website

The best explanation of scrolling that we have come across is John Herman’s quote about Twitter and their scroll-heavy design approach.

“If there’s one lesson to take from every major change in how people browse the internet over the last five years…it’s that users hate to click and don’t mind scrolling…Clicking is a choice, like jumping; scrolling is inevitable, like falling.”

Clicking requires a conscious effort and commitment while scrolling is inevitable and a lot of times done automatically; without thinking. This mindset has largely been influenced by the broad use of smart phones and touch screens. This is not to say that clicking has completely lost its use and functionality but if you are creating a site whose followers will most often be accessing its contents through mobile devices, scrolling is probably the smartest way for you to go.

Are your viewers familiar with your products or do they need to be guided?

If your customers already know exactly what they are looking for when they visit your site, then a click-heavy design will be beneficial to them because they are already committed to the idea of clicking on whatever will lead them to their desired destination. However, like most growing businesses, if you are hoping to drive potential customers who know nothing about your product, to your site, it is most often more beneficial to have a scroll heavy design approach.

Think of it this way; if you were going to visit a site that you are not very familiar with, the idea of picking a destination to explore first might be overwhelming and a lot of times people have mere minutes that they are willing to devote to curiosity before moving on. Don’t let them waste those precious minutes on deciding where to click. Instead, allow them to scroll seamlessly through your site, making sure they see everything you would want a new visitor to encounter.

Original Web Design, Goes Back To Newspaper Print.

To understand why the jump to scrolling may be difficult for some people to take, we need to go back to the roots of printing. When the internet was first created it was largely modeled off of newspaper print and its, “above the fold” concept; meaning, it was imperative to get reader’s attention from just the information above the halfway fold on the front page. And this made complete sense for the internet as well because, in theory, whatever is on the home screen will be what influences the user’s impression of the entire site.

However, as advances in web design software developed, new design possibilities arrived and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter ran with the advances. Launching fully scrolling, single-page sites, it was discovered that, as a whole, people really do prefer to scroll. And in fact, studies have shown that 66% of visitors to a site spend most of their time exploring the content that appears “below the fold.”

Control Your Story.

One of the largest selling points for a lot of web designers and business owners alike, is that scrolling allows you to not only create but control “the story.” In other words, you have the power to control what the viewer sees first, second, third, and so forth. The look and feel of the site can be relayed exactly the way you want it to and a lot of times you can succeed in influencing a viewer to click on a link that has nothing to do with their original reason for coming to the site.

Everyone’s needs are different and no client is the same. But as experts, we agree with the studies. If you want your website to function properly and produce ultimate reach results, a scroll heavy design is the way to go!

Scrolling vs Clicking: Pros & Cons

Pros for Scrolling:

  • Speed: Scrolling is faster than clicking, and enables the user to view a lot of information without the page load slowing down, or breaking his/her concentration.
  • Non-committal: Scrolling doesn’t require the user to make a decision; it’s a noncommittal action. Clicking requires a conscious decision which means that your audience needs to know what they want and be motivated to get there. For many sites, you won’t want to bank on this.
  • Storytelling: Single page design is a wonderful vehicle for powerful and creative storytelling.
  • Mobile & Touch Friendly: Scrolling is an easy and natural interaction for touch screen devices
  • Scrolling is Inevitable: The verdict is in, with the advent of social media feeds like Facebook and Twitter, and the use of touch screen mobile devices, scrolling is the most natural and intuitive action for a user on the web; it’s what we’ve been trained to do.
  • Getting to the Point: Single page sites force businesses to distil their vision into one page, making their brand clearer and more powerful than if it were divvied out page by page.

Cons for Scrolling:

  • Never-ending: If the page is too long there is a danger of information overload for the user who continues to scroll with no end in sight.
  •  Analytics: It is harder to track the bounce rate and other web analytics (although this is becoming less and less of an issue as web single page analytics tools are popping up to solve this problem)
  • Performance: Single pages can have performance issues. Heavy page weights and media intensive sites can be slow to load.
  •  Search: Single page sites can be less efficient for finding a very specific piece of information
  • Expensive and less flexible: Scroll heavey websites require much more attention to design.
  • Producing the design is more time-intensive and takes continuous collaboration between client and designer as the page evolves.

Pros for Clicking:

  • Users have control: User “chooses their own adventure” by controlling where they go and what information they are interested in. This is only a good thing if this is in line with the business strategy.
  • Organization: Dividing content into separate pages helps create organized and clear delineations between information.
  • Analytics: Tracking clicks on the site is much easier.
  • Search Engine Optimization: Multiple pages will be indexed and keywords will be scanned within the context of their specific page.
  • Scalability: Able to handle enormous amounts of content and information

Cons for Clicking:

  • Decision making: User has to make a conscious decision on where they want to go next on the website
  • Commitment: Clicking is a committal action and if a user is not ready to make that jump, they may leave the site
  • Concentration: Waiting for a new page to load breaks a user’s flow of concentration
  • Speed: Clicking is slower and is at the mercy of page load
    Out-dated: It can feel dated when compared to the modern single scroll websites out there
Resources:
Why long scrolling sites have become awesome
Web design trends 2015-16: the long scroll
Infinite Scrolling: Let’s Get To The Bottom Of This
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