The importance and growing attraction of scrolling in web design

By Joe Bell

Scrolling is a fundamental part of various programs and applications. How can we take advantage of this in web design?

The majority of web pages today use vertical scrolling to navigate across the site or to continue reading the rest of an article, why should we use it?

Scrolling is interactive, it's engaging, it's sometime entertaining but more importantly it tells a story. Always think of your site in terms of storytelling, whatever the purpose of your site, you're always telling a story to the users.

Full page scrolling

Full page scrolling has recently become very popular in web design recently with its focus on visuals and usability. It takes advantage of JavaScript and CSS3 to rescale images for different devices to create a truly responsive website with bold imagery and a straightforward narrative.

Sites with full page scrolling make it easy to control how the user views content and how the story flows. In a sense, the system is very similar to a slideshow; showing the story in a visually appealing way.

The best uses for full page scrolling tend to be for portfolios or showcasing products. A great example is the website for the iPhone and Android app Yep.

Parallax scrolling

Parallax scrolling is another form of web design that is becoming increasingly popular through its three dimensional illusion. The majority of parallax scrolling is aesthetically pleasing and relies heavily on CSS3 and JavaScript to work.

The effect unfortunately doesn't work too well on mobile browsers just yet, as the design lags and judders. The system also uses a lot of imagery which takes up hosting space and so can dramatically affect loading speeds – a factor that strongly impacts the amount of time a user spends on the site.

Parallax scrolling is becoming increasingly popular on sites showcasing creative content; a good example being the website for the film Life of Pi.

Infinite scrolling

If your site contains several pages of archives, why not save the user the trouble of clicking to the next page and ensure the story never ends? Infinite scrolling means that the page continuously loads content to save clicking through numerous pages of history. The system does however have some drawbacks, most of all a loss of user control. If you have separate pages for content, you can choose what you want to look at and skip vast amounts of content. Infinite scrolling can waste the user's time.

Infinite scrolling is common on sites with endless content; such as social networks and news sites. A notable user of infinte scrolling is the social network Twitter.

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Joe Bell of Ecru Joe Bell of Ecru

This article was written by Joe Bell of Ecru. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to discuss your next web site project please call us on 01702 479 677 or get in touch via our contact form.

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