UI design pattern tips: infinite scroll

In the latest in a series looking at website design patterns, Chris Bank of UXPin looks at infinite scroll.

Once someone starts using your website or web application, they need to know where to go and how to get there at any point. If they can't navigate through your your application easily, you'll quickly lose them. Thus, designing effective navigation in your web application is crucial.

In this series for Creative Bloq, Chris Bank of UXPin, the UX design app, discusses the importance of navigation design patterns and details examples from some of the hottest websites and web apps today.

You can see previous posts in this series here. Meanwhile, for more examples of web design patterns, download UXPin's free ebook, Web UI Design Patterns 2014.

The problem

The user wants to browse through all content.

The solution

Automatically load the next set or page of content when the user reaches the bottom of the current page, creating the effect of an infinite scrolling page. This way new content is automatically loaded and the user does not have to wait after clicking on a "next page" link.

UI design tips

With Tumblr, if there's a lot of content, you can keep scrolling to your heart's content

Infinite scrolling works best when there is a lot of content to show, as with most social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr among others.

However while its great for browsing content, especially multimedia galleries, two basic problems are that users can become disoriented and lose their place. If they want to skip to a particular point or bookmark to come back later, infinite scroll can cause problems.

UI design tips

Facebook lets you navigate to a particular point on the timeline (see bottom right of screenshot)

Facebook works around this when browsing a Timeline by creating a pagination/infinite scroll hybrid that lets you jump to a particular month or year.

Words: Chris Bank

Chris Bank is the growth lead at UXPin, a UX design app that creates responsive interactive wireframes and prototypes.