Scrolling Is Not Evil

Scrolling vs. Clicking has been debated for years in the web community. The decision to use multiple clicks or use longer page lengths to present long pieces of content is an important one in deciding how your site flows. For many years in the late 1990s and early 2000s clicking was the clear winner in this battle. The web was still in its UX infancy and people weren’t yet used to looking “below the fold” for content.

However, web users have evolved as technology has further molded our mindsets and use presets. Smartphones and tablets are never ending scroll oasis’ and websites with large amounts of content pop up with more regularity. For example Matter, a long-form news journal regularly has articles that take 20-30 minutes to read on a single page and most users read them the whole way through. Single-page checkout pages win over multi-page ones by up to 21%! Here’s why you should use scrolling in your website instead of extra clicks

Scrolling is a continuation, clicking is a decision

Scrolling is a smoother, more natural experience for most users and involves less work. While it may sound silly, clicking actually takes a lot of mental processes to get right. A user has to decide that they want to see more content (decisions are bad, make decisions for your users), find the link to the content they want, direct the mouse to the 20-pixel tall link to take them to the next page and THEN wait for the content to be delivered (more on that below). This whole process takes very little time but will leave you with a lot of exits from your site simply because it’s too much hassle in our instant-gratification culture.

Scrolling, however, is effortless. You simply keep moving your mouse down the page and you get more content. Gratification is instantaneous and no decisions have to be made which means you’ll generally see longer page view times.

Clicking is slow

Beyond the mental process it takes to click to a new link, you’re requiring a whole new page load to see more content. This takes time (often 2-5 seconds minimum on a shared host) and users don’t like to wait. It also requires them to re-find their place on the new page – if you have a 400-500 pixel tall header, they’re going to have to scroll down to see their content anyway when they could have simple scrolled down on the last page to see the same content.

Phones have re-shaped our browsing habits

As smartphones and tablets have become more and more ubiquitous, we have reshaped the way that we browse the web to match usage on our phones. Phones, due to their relatively small size have always required a certain amount of scrolling to see more content. Think of the last time you visited the Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest app on your phone. You don’t expect to click to see a new post every time – you expect to be able to endlessly scroll and binge-view all of the content that your friends are sharing. Having to click would represent an interruption and you may no longer decide to keep looking through the content.

Websites are the same way. The idea of most business websites is to move people to a contact or decision to use your services/product. Making the decision as easy as possible is crucial to making the sale. Apple, Nest, and Moz all use long, in-depth product pages to describe their products.

The proof is in the numbers

We can sit here and theorize all we want, but at the end of the day the proof is in analytics and how much people will actually scroll.

  • In analyzing over 2 billion page views, Chartbeat found that “66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold”.
  • As far back as 2007, TMZ found that their most clicked-on link was the one to view more content at the bottom of their 15,000 pixel homepage. Almost every visitor was scrolling to see more.
  • ClickTale analyzed over 100,000 pageviews and found that 76% of users used the scrollbar on a website.

The data proves that scrolling is more commonly accepted than clicking and generally better for user experience. Embrace it fully and you’ll end up with more conversions and a much better website.