This is the first in our series on "Design for the Non-Designer," where we'll visit a variety of design elements that can influence user engagement. Even if you don't have full control over the design and delivery of your content, we want to arm you with the knowledge to have better conversations with your team!
Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. adult population are Facebook users, and roughly 75% of these users access Facebook every day.
But what exactly is it about Facebook that users can’t seem to get enough of?
There are many factors that draw them in and keep them there, from cute puppies to snarky memes to creeping on pictures of an ex... But subconsciously, we have to give a lot of credit to the infinite scroll.
The Infinite What?
The infinite scroll isn't an ancient text that lists all of the digits of pi. Good guess, though. In truth, it is a UX design pattern where content is fetched and inserted onto a page as users scroll down, resulting in a page that seems to go on forever.
Such is what makes Facebook (and other social media sites, for that matter) enticing to users. Dynamic content, coupled with social media users’ “penchant for endlessly searching for novelty,” and the result is “the scroll’s increasing ubiquity,” per bestselling author Nir Eyal.
The Good, The Bad, and The... Well, That's It, Actually
The infinite scroll is a revolutionary UI / UX design, no doubt about that. However, it has specific uses. Meaning, it’s not for everything or everyone.
That said, the question now becomes: Is the infinite scroll the right design pattern for your learning and development project?
To get to that, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
Good #1. Content Exploration and User Engagement
For users looking to discover interesting content on a platform with tons to offer, the infinite scroll exposes them to as much content as possible.
Good #2. Made for Mobile
Your target user will likely have a phone or tablet for mobile browsing. And because mobiles are best used for swiping, infinite scrolling makes for a responsive user experience regardless of the device used.
Good #3. Scrolling vs. Clicking
It is easier to scroll than click, especially when using small, handheld devices. Plus, for tutorial-type content, continuous scrolling results in a more seamless browsing experience than when content is fed to the user page by page.
Bad #1. Page Loading Speed
Infinite scrolling uses a lot of browser memory and can be taxing for mobile devices that are low on resources. Because content is added to a page whenever a user scrolls down, the page can take a while to refresh and load new content.
Bad #2. Inability to Go Back to a Specific Location
With the infinite scroll, going back to a certain spot in the scroll can be difficult, prompting users to start scrolling again to get to a particular point.
Bad #3. No Footer in Sight
Footers contain information that users may need, such as links to other pages or relevant email addresses. With infinite scrolling, getting to the footer can turn into an exhausting and frustrating process for the user.
The Infinite Scroll in Learning and Development
The infinite scroll provides some level of power to the learner. They can choose how long to keep exploring and when to stop and dig deeper into a particular item. The downside? You need a fair bit of material to make this work. Plus, you need to take into account the user’s motivation. If the goal is to find specific content or perform comparisons, this design strategy may not work in their favor.
But if your company has a lot of material and each piece of content is as interesting as the next, infinite scrolling can be a great way to allow for employees to discover relevant resources, as well as expand upon their existing knowledge set.
Words by Kristina Wood, Creative Director at Mindspace
Art by Toby Riley, Art Director at Mindspace