Infinite Scroll

May 18th, 2016

It’s been a little while, since I have written about tech. And this time, it’s going to be a little more technical, but more so for those who use tech without writing a single line of code. Yes, I am targeting bloggers.

For the last two weeks or, I have embarked on the journey of curating a list of digital influencers, and doing some in-depth analysis of their presence across various platforms. Obviously, somewhere this falls in line with my vision for bringing people together with the use of technology. But more so, one can say, it is the start of an altogether new project, with a fresh perspective and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

As I scroll through websites and blogs, looking for contact information, I often observed, the blind use of infinite scroll by many designers on these websites. And I have begun to see they will often neglect a design critic like me, delving into details of how they use infinite scroll. Some of these bloggers are renowned, having thousands of visits each day, even though they might be posting updates only once, on a Tuesday morning at 8.

But, what is infinite scroll?

Although, the name might sound over-daunting to begin with, infinite scroll is a basic feature that is included on most news feeds, including the one on facebook, the twitter timeline or on instagram. What infinite scroll does is, provide with the visitor or user with an infinite number of posts to read through, as he or she continues to scroll through.

And, why did I say “blind use”?

I used the term “blind use” because in most of the cases, I find the feature has been included while completely neglecting other design elements of the website’s theme. If you want to ask me, how can this happen? Well, I had the assumption, that the feature is easily available as part of standard Jetpack, which an amateur programmer will go select by default, because obviously, we want the least amount of trickle happening among visitors to our website or blog, and a good way of keeping the visitor engaged, is to basically keep pushing more content onto him.

I validated my assumption, by checking if these websites were built with WordPress (a hugely popular blogging, content management and web development platform) and checked if Jetpack was activated among the plugins. And, not really to my happiness, I found that my assumption was correct. The satire of having confirmed my assumption, and yet not being happy about it, is because I am visiting the websites, in order to get in touch with the content provider. And not necessarily or directly engage with the content. At least not at this point in time.

And that objective is clearly being missed on many a website. Now, if you look at the design of Matt Mullenweg’s personal website (http://ma.tt), the founder of WordPress, who’s also responsible for Automattic, the creators of Jetpack, he has enabled infinite scroll on it. But what you also find, along with infinite scroll, is that there is fixed footer at the bottom of the page, which has the necessary menu space, where you can find relevant contact information.

matt mullenweg's infinite scroll website

On the contrary, the websites I am visiting, are often neglecting that the theme they are using to program their website, does away with the footer, every time the javascript kicks in to provide infinite scroll functionality.

The hero’s don’t actually know about it!

You can however tell me, and support it with data from analytics, that infinite scroll has reduced the trickle from your website. Even if the footer is presently not available. You can also justify, that although, it is advisable to have your social network links included in the footer, the social networks serve more as funnels to bring traffic in, and you would not want the links to take traffic out.

But that’s where I will argue the “the html link ‘target’ attribute” and leave it to the designers to decipher the rest. Trickle is hence plugged. And a user like me, who is looking for contact information, would not have a hard time, working like a site-crawler myself, and opening up the code on every such website I visit, to find the contact information.

Bottomline (and pun-intended), keep it simple for your visitor to connect with you.

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