The question of pagination vs infinite scroll most often comes up in the context of e-commerce and product listings, but we can apply the same ideas in other scenarios as well.
Why does it matter which I choose?
First of all, usability is not the same between the two choices. Of course, you want your website to be as user-friendly as possible. But don’t jump to a conclusion too quickly: there are pros and cons to both choices.
Pagination vs Infinite scroll: what do the experts say?
Smashing Magazine tells us that test subjects found pagination slow, and when a site was paginated, they viewed fewer items. However, they spent more time on the first page. On the contrary, they viewed a higher number of items when a site used infinite scroll, but the users scanned the items as an whole rather than spending time looking at each individual item. They tell us further that mobile users are generally unwilling to wait for the next page to load.
It’s also generally acknowledged that infinite scrolling also makes the footer basically inaccessible since new results constantly push it down the page. So if you want users to be able to access your footer, that is an important consideration.
SEO guru Yoast tells us that:
- Infinite scroll is best when you want the user to scan through the items, rather than focus on a specific one.
- Pagination is a great way for your user to find a specific item he is looking for, so this is your optimal choice if your goal is improving your SEO.
Open Source For U concurs that infinite scroll is the best choice for mobile devices. However, they point out that:
“With pagination, you have a fixed start point and end point. This helps customers know what page exactly contains the type of products they want. They do not have to scroll endlessly but can control their searches.”
There is an in-between solution as well, which consists of adding a “load more” button at the bottom of the page. This allows the client to choose to load more items on the same page, which gives the impression of infinite scrolling, while not forcing him to wait for a long page load time.
To Recap: Pagination vs Infinite scroll
- If you want the user to be in “discovery mode” and see the expanse of your products or articles -> use infinite scrolling
- If your audience is mainly on mobile devices -> use infinite scrolling
- If you require that your footer remain accessible -> use pagination
- If you want a user to quickly view a specific item, spend more time on the first page, or view individual items in depth -> use pagination
- If you aren’t sure what best fits your set-up -> get in touch with us, we’ll be happy to think through the options with you.