Pagination or Infinite Scrolling – A Comparison

Web developers are notorious for their debate of nearly any topic regarding design and UX. However, one of the decisions you will need to make is one of the biggest debates in the development world — pagination or infinite scroll. This is a bigger decision than you may think. After all, the wrong decision can lead to frustrated customers and a website that doesn’t feel “right.” While the decision about pagination vs. infinite scrolling may come into play in nearly any type of website, it is an essential consideration for e-commerce sites. After all, the goal is to keep your customers engaged, looking at the product and hopefully pulling the trigger to make a purchase. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of both options, to help you make the best decision for your website.

Pagination

Pagination offers a simple, controlled method of organizing items or products in a list. A set number of items are listed on a page, and when the user reaches the end of the page, they must click through to continue looking at new items. One prime example of this is the Google search engine results page. The benefits to pagination are that users have, or feel that they have, a sense of control as they browse through results. It can also be easier to “find” a certain list item later, by remembering the page number. Pagination also keeps users engaged (and leading to conversion) since they need to click to continue browsing. The biggest con, from a browsing standpoint, is that it can be a little bit more “work” to deal with pages, especially on mobile devices. Plus, with all of the sites utilizing infinite scrolling, it is easy for a site with pages to appear dated, if it is not carefully developed with modern coding.

Infinite Scrolling

The other option when it comes to list navigation is infinite scrolling. Infinite scrolling means that when users get to the “bottom” of the page, more results load. Think about your Facebook or Twitter feed—these pages offer infinite scrolling. The main benefit is that the user essentially never reaches a stopping point, keeping them on the page. However, since they are not actively engaged, there is debate as to how useful this is as a selling point. Infinite scroll can also be quite attractive, providing endless “eye candy” for the user. On the negative side, if the user needs to stop browsing or loses his or her place, finding it again can be nearly impossible. Additionally, it is not hard for a user to become overwhelmed with a vast amount of content, when there is no end in site.

Person using paginated website design

Which Option is Best?

As mentioned earlier, the infinite scrolling vs. pagination debate is quite heated in the web development world. In reality, the answer of “which is best,” will vary from website to website. On a page that is highly-visual, perhaps infinite scrolling would be a good choice since users will not get to view as many results at one time. However, if you are truly struggling with the decision, it is important to remember that pagination is always a good “universal” option, and it’s hard to go wrong choosing to go this route. Whether you are creating a brand new site or updating an older site, sometimes it can help to talk to an expert about these important decisions.Mediaboom is a Connecticut-based digital marketing agency that is here to help. If you have any questions about making your page accomplish more, give us a call or contact us online today.

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.