The mobile revolution has had a dramatic effect on the way that we consume content. Smartphones and Tablets are fast replacing desktop computers and laptops and web designers are increasingly concerned with developing sites that are accessible to these devices. For website designers, that means walking the fine line between functional website layouts that provide good content and easy navigation. Keep ahead of the curve with these website design trends & best practices for 2014.
To scroll or not to scroll, that is the question.
In the past, developers were concerned with keeping content “above the fold” so that visitors wouldn’t have to scroll to get the rest of the content. However, as mobile devices become more and more widespread, scrolling is part and parcel of the browsing experience. Small screens force readers to scroll, it’s just the nature of the beast, and users not only accept scrolling, but they expect it. Take a look at the most popular sites on the net, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pintrest, just to name a few. They all adopted long scrolling pages and have seen great success with the format. Taking cues from them, it would appear that scrolling is, in fact a good model for website design.
Endless pages aren’t for everyone.
Sometimes shopping can be a leisurely activity, but most often when people are shopping online, it’s all about speed and relevance. E-commerce sites divide similar products into categories such as gifts and they are quite often presented in an endless list format. While this works well for someone that’s just browsing the product line, it can be difficult for people to compare products. Too many choices without the ability to narrow it down to bit-sized chunks can frustrate customers and drive them away rather than entice them to stay. Navigation that allows sorting by price, features and specific category can eliminate this issue and still allow for a long-scroll page.
Getting To The Point
On one hand, longer pages and infinite scrolling give users one-page access to your site’s content, on the other, it’s effectiveness is totally based on the user’s motivation. That said, endless scrolling is not the best bet for every site. Infinite scrolling can be overwhelming to people who are looking for specific types of information, especially if it is not grouped into relevant sections. It can be difficult at best to remember where on a page a specific piece of information was found. For that reason, it may be better to navigation to relevant information rather than keeping it on one endless page. Navigation has to be judiciously applied with the sole intent of leading readers closer to their desired goal.
Keeping Navigation Easy
In order to keep navigation easy for users in a long-format website, a fixed header bar may be the best option. Rather than making readers scroll all the way back to the top of the page, fixed navigation allows them to quickly access the menu no matter how far down the page they are. It does take up a little space but it improves navigation and encourages users to explore the site further. It’s all about enhancing the users experience, making it easy for them to move around and ultimately to find the information or products that they are looking for.
While infinite scrolling pages may seem like a better way than the old pagination formats websites used to follow, it’s really dependent on the type of site. For goal-oriented activities, such as comparing prices and features on an e-commerce site or locating specific information about a topic quickly, it might not be the best idea. On the other hand, with proper navigation in place scrolling isn’t as troublesome. Knowing your audience and catering to their specific needs and desires is far more important than following along with the newest trends. If you’ve got questions about website design, contact us, we’ll be more than happy to help you find the best solutions for your site.