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More than anything else, content is what makes a website stand out, and well-curated content is what makes the website unique. 

You can always make a unique experience with the content you create for your business to help convert visitors into leads and then customers.  

While content matters a lot, you also need to consider the ease of browsing experience to match with the content you've created. 

In this article, Infinite Scrolling vs. Pagination UX, we will closely look into a significant factor when it comes to structuring websites and answer this question, "How do I successfully organize and show my content that will satisfy my readers?   

This article will also cover the following sub-topics:

Working with modern websites provides us the two basic categories of content organization: the paginated sites and the infinite scrolling sites. 

We will discuss these two content organization methods in-depth, including the advantages and disadvantages, to help you assess which type of content organization works best for your website.


What is pagination?

Pagination is a method where the digital content is separated into different, multiple pages (separate pages) on a website. 

If you are browsing a heavy content website, you may have experienced navigating between the pages by clicking the links, which are often seen in the form of numbers located at the very bottom part of the page. This is how paginated content is usually set up for the same common theme or purpose.

You can see the pagination method commonly used in many online businesses, eCommerce websites, and content-based websites like blogs. 

One good example is the Hubspot blog section, where the articles are grouped by image thumbnails and are divided by pages.

Hubspot Blog Pagination

You can see that the blog section enables users to jump to a different article by simply clicking on the thumbnail image or the set of images located at the bottom of the article to go to another content or page.


The benefits of pagination

  • Pagination can be a default method. This is true in most frameworks, and developers think this method is optimal. 
  • Pagination limits the user's choice, which is a good thing. Google loves paging since it provides users more focus on the search results that are picked and given to them. This is a method to restrict the users' choices by reducing their options and access.
  • Pagination can easily be measured. This is an essential factor to consider in marketing as clicks are straightforward to measure, but scrolling is more problematic, if not impossible. 


The disadvantages of pagination

  • Pagination lets users scroll. Compared to the early PCs, page boundaries do not line up with the viewport. Thus, the user will need to scroll by to be able to read the content and press the button to read more. 
  • Pagination controls can vary in terms of form and function, and thus the user should be aware of their scrolling position and ways of interaction for every new website or free medium app.
  • Pagination can be too confusing by having too many controls. While this method restricts a user's control, it also challenges the user, discouraging users from interacting on the website. 
  • Pagination may sometimes slow the page load time. This can result in a burdensome experience for the user as the user may still need to click on something to get to the next page or read on more content. 
  • Pagination controls may go unnoticed by the user. Some users may think that the visible content on the site is all the content available. 
  • The pagination that tends to offer multiple selections or batch selection can cause many issues on the user's side. Sometimes the user may feel overwhelmed and confused as they cannot tell whether the section applies per page or the whole list. 


What is infinite scrolling?

An infinite scroll is considered a user experience practice, where the content continually loads as soon as the user reaches the bottom part of the page. 

Infinite scrolling offers an endless scrolling experience of the flow of information on a page, which seems to be a never-ending page. 

You can see infinite scrolling in many social media websites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. 

This method is widely used on image-heavy websites like Google images search section. 

Google Images infinite scrolling

With infinite scrolling, the page dynamically populates new content as the user scrolls. This also creates "lazy loading" as new images are rendered and appear on the screen, where no necessary clicking from the user is required. 

Both methods are widely used and are very popular on modern-day websites. Both techniques have unique uses and provide different experiences to the users; they are hardly interchangeable. 


The benefits of infinite scrolling

  • Infinite scrolling provides natural content browsing as the user only needs to scroll down the page to read more content.
  • Infinite scrolling batch selection is more apparent as all selections came from a single list.
  • Infinite scrolling provides the best performance possible. This is a valuable and essential feature for a massive amount of content on the site. This is perfect for visitors who are looking for insightful and dynamic thinking.  
  • Infinite scrolling is supported by mobile devices apps and can support different alternative scrolling functions, including fast user scrolling.


The disadvantages of infinite scrolling

Here are infinite scroll's major shortcomings

  • Infinite scrolling may result into frustrating behaviors, which can occur if the scrolling experience is not appropriately implemented.
  • Infinite scrolling may add implementation complexity as it requires considerable coordination between the presentation layer code, APIs, and data storage. 
  • Infinite scrolling requires the entire page design for infinite scroll. If this feature fails to be implemented, it can prevent users from accessing the bottom of the page, the access on the top page can slow down, and the user experience can become disoriented. 
  • Infinite scrolling is limited when it comes to scroll bar size and position, which only reflects on what content has been loaded. And since the scroll bar size and potion do not reflect the length, users may become confused about where they are in the list. 

The following section will compare both methods to see where and why they work best.


Pagination vs infinite scroll

Infinite Scrolling vs. Pagination UX 1

Whether to use pagination vs infinite scroll makes sense on your website, the decision should depend on the purpose of your website, the content type, and the intended user experience UX.

With pagination, this works best on websites that are looking for specific content. 

Infinite scrolling, on the other hand, works well with content that is intended to be explored. This method works well for users who simply like to browse aimlessly to check for content that will suit their interests. This method is very effective for the mobile devices browsing experience. 

The advantages of using pagination and infinite scrolling can reveal why these methods of grouping content are popular on websites. 

For example, the pagination method is commonly used in e-commerce websites because this method provides better searching and cataloging. 

The users likely only wanted to view the products they like that are related to their search.  

On the other hand, users from social media sites may not have anything specific other than being entertained or likely informed. Thus, in this case, infinite scrolling is a suitable method for scrolling websites like user-generated content sites for a common reason.

In this case, infinite scroll is an excellent way to hook users into a stream of relevant content. You'll see infinite scrolling on news websites and user-generated content sites for the same reason.

In the next section, we will break down the effectiveness of pagination and infinite scroll on several essential aspects of the website.


Engagement

Infinite scrolling promotes user engagement to keep viewers on the page for as long as possible. 

This method is effective for users who do not have any goal in mind as infinite scroll will roll out efficient, digestible, and interruption-free content.

On the other hand, the pagination method works best for users who have desired content in mind. This method makes freeform exploration very time-consuming since users should always click the next button and wait for the page and content to load. 

The length of the waiting time can be minimized by optimizing the loading time of the page's content.  

It should also be taken to note that infinite scroll is not a perfect solution to fix the loading time of the pages. In infinite scrolling, the more people simply scrolling means more content to be loaded, which may result in slowing the website's performance. 

To resolve this issue, make sure to reduce the image sizing only to what is needed to lower the bandwidth. 


Ease of use

Every website builder such as CMS and other blogging platforms use pagination for content structuring.  

We all know that paginated content means users are familiar with your website's layout. This is true for as long as you have properly organized your pages, and your visitors will have no issues when it comes to clicking pages on your website.

However, you also must remember to minimize the number of clicks as much as possible. While clicking is not a complex task for the user, this action still adds up, and most people prefer to do little activities on the website as much as possible. 

In infinite scroll, the ease of use stands out. These days, most people find infinite scroll more convenient as it is fast, easy, intuitive, and responsive. All these are positive user experiences that your visitors will appreciate. 

Infinite scroll's feature shines the most on touch screens. This is a content organization method that was built for mobile devices as it provides minimized button press, which is often a frustrating task on most phones.

While infinite scroll makes it easier to browse the website from the user's perspective, adding infinite scrolling to your website is challenging as it also suggests additional work. 

You cannot simply add the infinite scrolling feature to your website and expect it to function correctly. You will need to hire a web developer to implement infinite scrolling, or you need to devote a considerable amount of time when you want to transition your website's content to infinite scroll.

You may consider adding infinite scroll feature on single page and testing the user engagement to check the user experience performance. By doing it this way, you can see whether you want to transition your website's content to infinite scrolling. 


Navigation

We already know that pagination is best used for users who are looking for specific content on one page. Thus, for this reason, this content organization is easier in terms of navigation compared to infinite scrolling.

Website pages in pagination are easy to filter, index, and do an online Google search. 

Pagination also helps users feel more in control when browsing. In terms of the browsing experience, the pagination method allows users to know the number of pages there is left and how much content is left to read. 

In infinite scroll, all these features are not allowed. You won't see any way to end the content, which can become overwhelming. There is no option to bookmark a piece of content or location on the web page. This is quite frustrating, especially when users want to return to the page or specific content, but only to find themselves back at the top. 

Another feature that is often neglected in the infinite scroll is the website's footer section. 

Some users want to check the footer section, looking for contact information, privacy policy data, or other important information. However, in pagination, the footer goes at the bottom of the page, which can be hard to locate.

You may place the footer section in another section on your website or another section where you can apply pagination.


Aesthetic appeal

You've seen social media platforms using infinite scroll, and this content structuring method is not only easy to use but has aesthetic appeal too. 

This is the reason why heavy photo content websites like stock photography website and portfolios use infinite scroll. This is the perfect feature users are looking for as inspiration or if they want to feel a sense of art. Infinite scroll design is also best paired with other effects like parallax scrolling.


Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization and UX always go hand in hand. Regardless of the UX strategy you take, you will have to consider the best and working content structuring strategy for your website's SEO. 

Both pagination and infinite scroll affect how content is laid out on a website, and both also have their own SEO challenges. Thus, always keep in mind these things in your SEO plan.

Unfortunately, infinite scroll puts UX features first and SEO second. Its feature of loading the content only when scrolled prevents proper website indexing, thus preventing search engines from indexing your web pages. 

A workaround for infinite scroll websites is splitting newly loaded content into sections and adding "Read More" buttons that link to the next section.

Google bots can follow these links and index them as they would on regular websites.  

In paginated pages, SEO is more straightforward, and search engine bots will likely crawl the entire pages and properly index these pages. There are also steps that you can take to let search engines know similar content on pages is related, which can help build up your search engine rank.    

But remember only to use the essential pages to organize your content correctly. Too many pages can lead to several SEO issues. 

Limit on how much content is scanned and indexed. If the pagination is too large, Google search engine bots may have some challenges checking your website and may miss the essential pages you want your users to find. 

A good workaround here is to minimize the use of pages you want to crawl and index. Just work on pages that are significant to your visitors and search engine bots. 

Try to also link the most important pages from your homepage. Doing this will reduce the exact page number of clicks to your content pages and guarantee that search engine bots will index the pages you only want to get indexed. 


Final thoughts

Work on the design rather than choosing your solution. This way, you can discover the best solution for your website. Work with teams to help define and understand the requirements and constraints. 

There is no one page content solution for all websites. Every website is unique. 

Thus, design a solution rather than choosing between pagination or infinite scroll. Look for variations, including ways in designing for solutions. 

Never assume anything until you look deeper and discover the best web content structuring method that works well for you.

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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