Trying to Decide on Infinite Scroll
A lot of people were unhappy with the infinite scrolling (for reasons I fully understand), and have turned it off, but I’m undecided. I don’t use footers, so that’s no problem for me.
I think the point is well-taken that people are more likely to keep scrolling down than to click to another page for older posts. As a result, I’ve historically had 10 posts on my front page, trying to strike a balance between a slow loading time and having enough posts for people to scroll down and see them if they haven’t hit my blog for a week or so.
It seems to me that if I use infinite scrolling, I can reduce this to perhaps 4-5 posts, getting a quicker initial load, which is always a good idea. So what are the drawbacks?
I read in some of the complaints about infinite scrolling that it just keeps loading and loading, making the site much slower. I am not sure this is true. It appears to me, as I played around with it, that it only loads the first seven posts or so, and then it doesn’t load any more unless you actually scroll down to the bottom. Then, it loads the next seven, and no more until you scroll down to the end of those. Is that what other people are seeing? If so, I’m not sure why that would be a negative feature.
I’ve got it turned off, but I’m inclined to turn it back on. Does anyone have any thoughts as to why this would be a bad idea? I often write a series of posts on a topic, so encouraging people to glance on down the page seems like a winner to me. Is there something I’m overlooking?
The blog I need help with is mindrenewers.com.
If your audience is on a slow connection, this is VERy bad for them. If your audience is primarily European, Australian, Japanese, or North American, then it’s not so much of a problem. That’s the BIG issue for me. My blog is a pig to load at the best of times, and my experiences with infinite scroll at Tumblr tell me: people will use it, and will read a lot more of your blog, but as they do so, things will take longer to load and their computers may freeze entirely.
Thanks for the response, and if this is accurate, I’ll leave it off, because I do get some third world readers. But I’m not sure why it would be true.
If the extra posts don’t load until someone scrolls down, then why does it matter? Someone loads the page, and it loads for them nicely. It shouldn’t affect them unless they scroll down, should it? And then they load another seven posts if they do scroll down, but once those are loaded it is no effect until they scroll to the bottom of that, is it? How is that different from them just clicking on “Older posts” and moving to the previous page?
Maybe I’m just displaying my ignorance…. again.
@jongleason – I don’t know the technical answer to your question, but I was one of the ones leading the charge for the opt-out switch. I looked at your blog. One idea, if you don’t want infinite scrolling but are concerning that people will not go farther than your home page would be to move your Category Cloud and, say, the widget for your top recent posts to the footer. That’s what I have done – have a look.
That way, when people get to the bottom, they will see several simple and easy to click choices on topics that might be of interest.
Good luck with it.
Technically, on paper and according to what staff told us, it’s not going to matter. In practice, however, it actually does make a big difference.
Thank you both. @mannerofspeaking, I don’t know if I’ll do what you’ve done or not — but I’ll profit from your blog, and you just gained a reader. :)
A friend of mine has a blog with Twenty Ten and when I looked at hers over the weekend, it was very jumpy and very annoying to be on her home page. It seems like something changed because you can scroll a little bit, then there is a quick little blurp and it settles down before blurping again. It isn’t jumpy like it was. I have cable and not dial-up so I can’t say how it would load for someone using dial-up.
I use the top posts widget plus have a manual archives page so I can put my posts in alphabetical order. I get clicks from both of those.
I’m trying to decide, too. I have a very image-heavy blog and I do love the idea of infinite scrolling, but I’m not sure how smoothly it’s going for readers. So far my only feedback has been positive, though, so I think I’ll keep it unless I start getting complaints.
My sentiment is the same as jongleason’s, that the extra posts don’t load until someone scrolls down, and so the speed issue you’re talking about is really more related to the content in your posts than it has to do with infinite scroll. I will see what else I can find out about it.
@kellywpa, maybe we can work on perceived jumpiness. Hrm.
@themiddlestsister, ooo… very interesting to hear that reader feedback has been positive! That’s cool. I’ve noticed infinite scroll is being adopted all over the web too, and I bet we’re going to see more and more websites across the web start using it.
In my experience, some people who hated it at first, actually like it tons after using it for a while. Also pretty interesting. Anyway, change is tough. :) Give new features a chance.
@jongleason Have a look at Flickriver which is a great site which shows aggregated content from public Flickr pages. It has infinite scroll and is great as long as ones internet connection is up to it. My ‘net connection, although broadband, is slow as I live in a rural area. For me, Flickriver loads about three photos at a time and only the first of them appears in full while the others appear progressively from the top down, about a third of the first and second and the rest of the images take time to come. As I scroll down, the others aren’t even visible because my connection is too slow.
If infinite scroll is like this for someone with a slow broadband connection, think what it’s like for someone with dial-up.
Here’s a link to Flickriver so that you can see for yourself. Put a keyword in the search box at the top (or, if you know it, the username of someone on Flickr who has public content) and see what happens when you get your results.
@themiddlestsister – I looked at your blog and my connection can’t cope with it. The later images don’t appear at all – just as alt-text.
Thanks, AOB. Isn’t that an issue of trying to load in a lot of images at once? I understand exactly what you are saying, but I’m not sure what WP has done here is equivalent, at least for those of us with text-heavy rather than image-heavy blogs.
Your blog’s load time will increase in accord with the number of images, videos, other media embeds and the number of widgets running script you have on your blog. Keeping the images in their native sizes will help with load time. Resize and optimize all images to the exact size they will be in the blog before uploading them. Images, flash and sometimes even sound files can draw visitors but they do slow page loading time. Page loading time is a page ranking factor. Studies demonstrate that visitors will only wit for 3 – 4 seconds a site to load. That’s why we insert “the more tag” prior to the images and embeds and that why we limit the number of posts appearing on the front page of our blogs.
Thanks for letting me know, AOB.
I don’t think comparing another service which may or may not do things the same way is comparing apples to apples. I really can’t comment on how http://www.flickriver.com/ works under the hood, personally.
“That’s why we insert “the more tag” prior to the images and embeds and that why we limit the number of posts appearing on the front page of our blogs.”
Damn, Another thing I’ve not thought through properly. Yes, I’ve limited my posts to 4 for the front page since I include lots of photos, but for my hiking-adventure posts I usually place a photo from the day’s hike at the top of the post. I see this as an ‘appetiser’ to give a general idea of the sort of walk/terrain, before starting with the written description of the hike.
I usually insert the ‘more tag’ at the end of the first opening paragraph which is all below this photo.
@designsimply – I was just giving an example of an infinite scroll that my internet connection can’t cope with, and the reason why. I think it’s comparing apples to apples, but maybe one is an eating apple and the other is a cooking apple…
I presently have both dialup and broadband. I cannot use the “Read Blogs” page on WordPress on my dialup connection because it has infinite scroll: it does eventually freeze my computer.
I have no idea why (ie, what the technical reason is under the hood), but it’s very repeatable.
It’s also an old computer without modern amounts of memory; that also might be part of it.
Just thought I’d provide the apples-to-apples datapoint that @designsimply suggested.
@jongleason As a reader I don’t like infinite scrolling at all. As a writer I didn’t want it either.
As a reader, infinite scrolling offers me absolutely nothing other than staring at a screen with “stuff” scrolling past. I much prefer a clearly late out path to information on a site so I can find what is of interest to me easily.
Infinite scroll is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Now, some people may have hours of time to do nothing but browse endlessly, but most of us do not.
@designsimply you said ” I’ve noticed infinite scroll is being adopted all over the web too, and I bet we’re going to see more and more websites across the web start using it.” I disagree long term. Having been around quite a few years (since before the internet, even) I’ve seen a lot of fads in various areas come and go. “Oh, isn’t this the best thing since sliced bread” and everyone jumps on the latest bandwagon, only to be all scrambling off in a month, a few months, or a year.
The problem with many “new and improved” things is there might be great novelty value, but little else!
So on one hand you may be right in the short term – many will jump on the bandwagon. Short-sightedness in my view. There is nothing to be gained by fearing being left behind if in fact the novelty is going to wear off. Hey, I could be wrong, but that is my take on the whole thing.
Tell me ONE benefit of infinite scrolling? I have yet to see anyone actually state a clear benefit to the READER!
It is, after all, not so very long ago I read many times over on these forums that readers HATE scrolling! What changed in the space of a couple of months? I suggest the readers didn’t change – what “changed” was a way to boost page view counts to the benefit of the platforms (Tumblr, WP, etc etc) involved.
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