The Infinite Scroll Debate

infinity

Of course, infinite scroll isn’t really infinite.

Infinite scroll became a design practice about a decade ago. It is a web design technique where, as the user scrolls down a page, more content automatically and continuously loads at the bottom, eliminating the user’s need to click to the next page.

In earlier decades, the idea of having a long web page (nowhere near infinite!) was considered poor design. In fact, early web design was based on the design of print, especially, newspapers, which thought of the initial desktop screen view without scrolling as the same as the “above the fold” for a newspaper.

A 2006 study by Jakob Nielsen found that 77% of visitors to a website do not scroll, and therefore only see the portion of the website that is above the fold. Some designers still believe the “fold” is worth considering today, but the move to small screens and mobile design has changed how we define that “fold.”

What are the advantages of the infinite scroll? It allows people a frictionless browsing experience without having to go to a “next page” link, arrow or button. Without a end point or bottom , people tend to keep scrolling. Therefore, this scroll is designed to pull you in.

It is a bit addictive – a rabbit hole and some people warn that it has psychological and even societal effects. The term “addictive technology” is sometimes considered antithetical to “ethical design.”

In 2019, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley introduced the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act which would outlaw social media platforms from using certain practices, including infinite scroll.

Infinite scroll can also make navigation especially difficult for users with disabilities.

One typical design feature – the footer – is diminished, if not eliminated in the infinite scroll design. This area typically contained “About” and “Contact” links and perhaps an entire menu and information that was carried over to the rest of the site. It is a long scroll back up to the top of an infinite page to get to the main menu.

Many users know how to jump back to the top of a long page, but not everyone, and it can be frustrating to a new viewer.

It’s easier to “get lost” on a long page. Long pages also load slower, which is an issue for anyone on a slower connection.

So, should you use infinite scroll? It is a consideration. And a compromise is longer but not infinite pages. I find most designers are not recommending it to clients, but be informed.

More at builtin.com/ux-design/infinite-scroll

The Real Estate Walkthrough Video

Last year was certainly a big year for streaming video. It came in the form of entertainment via Netflix and other services. It hit us as videoconferencing, via Zoom and other services, and included children attending their classes online. It increased on a personal level as we posted more video to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and sent it live to friends and family using Facetime or any other service.

I helped a friend who is a new realtor use some video apps in order to show homes she was selling in live, “interactive” (by audio) walkthroughs with clients.

One NAR statistic she had seen said that 77% of realtors now use social media for their real estate business and video is a big part of that now.

Live video works with mobile devices quite well with the current technologies. The pandemic changed the way we use video online or live for a number of industries. Education gets a lot of attention, but it is certainly not the only place where live video grew exponentially.

My friend had only started showing homes in fall 2019, so when she was unable to walk with clients through homes or have open house events her agency said she had to get up to speed on using video tours.

One of my son’s sold his condo using 360-degree photo views back in 2017. It seemed like a big leap from the usual static photos I was used to seeing of homes. But video takes that idea much further.

My friend told me that the agency finds that live video results in more conversions to sales than even traditional video. That may seem counterintuitive since staged and edited video certainly looks more polished than live video. But live video creates more engagement. People tend to keep watching longer than archived video.

Post-pandemic will people still want video over an actually walk through a home? Probably not. But more and more, post-pandemic seems at least a year away and there will probably still be a market for virtual home tours, both archived and live, by the end of 2021 and beyond.

Something else she is now doing is archiving herself doing a “live” walking tour of a home. It looks live but, like “live on tape” television, it can be edited and cleaned up and reused.

Since I worked with her, I myself watched a virtual walkthrough of an Airbnb that we were considering renting. I much prefer that to static photos.


Sample Real Estate Home Walk Through Video