Infinite Scrolling: Let’s Get To The Bottom Of This


Infinite scrolling promises a better experience for users. However, the good is often accompanied by the bad and the ugly. Once we understand the strengths and weaknesses of infinite scrolling, we can begin to use it to enhance our interfaces.

Human nature demands hierarchy and structures that are easy to navigate. But infinite scrolling sometimes leaves users feeling disoriented as they travel down a page that never ends.

The NeverEnding Scroll1

The Good

Long lists are not new, but the way in which we scroll these lists has fundamentally changed since the arrival of mobile interfaces. Due to the narrowness of mobile screens, list items are arranged vertically, requiring frequent scrolling.

Infinite scrolling is highly trending2 as an interaction behavior on pages and lists. The basic functionality is that, as the user scrolls through content, more content is loaded automatically. With the popularity of social media, massive amounts of data are being consumed; infinite scrolling offers an efficient way to browse that ocean of information, without having to wait for pages to preload. Rather, the user enjoys a truly responsive experience, whatever device they’re using.

Pagination vs. Infinite Scroll3
Pagination versus infinite scrolling (Large version4)

Websites with lots of user-generated content today are using infinite scrolling to handle content that is being generated every second. By unspoken agreement, users are aware that they won’t get to see everything on these websites, because the content is updated too frequently. With infinite scrolling, social websites are doing their best to expose as much information as possible to the user.

Twitter5 integrates infinite scrolling effectively. Its feed fits the criteria: a large amount of data (tweets) and a real-time platform. From the perspective of the user, all tweets are equally relevant, meaning that they have the same potential to be interesting or uninteresting; so, users will often scroll through all of the tweets in their feed. Being a real-time platform, Twitter is constantly being updated, even if the user leaves their feed unattended. Infinite scrolling seems to have been created especially for websites like Twitter, which successfully employs the technology.

Infinite scrolling appears to have found its niche on the Web. However, there are also drawbacks that must be considered before assessing its value.

The Bad And The Ugly

With so much data to browse, users must stay focused on the information they are searching for. (Remember about being goal-oriented?) Do users always want a never-ending stream of data? Analytics show that when users search for information on Google, only 6%6 advance to the second page. So, 94% of users are satisfied with receiving only 10 results, which suggests that users find Google’s ranking of results to be relevant.

To Click or Not to Click

Google has implemented infinite scrolling for image search results but has yet to implement7 it for its general results. Doing so would eliminate the need for users to click to reach the second page. Google will probably maintain pagination because this pattern is quite symbolic for its brand. If it does switch to infinite scrolling, when would users typically stop scrolling? After 20 results? 50? When does an easy browsing experience become more complicated?

Looking for the best search result could take a second or an hour, depending on your research. But when you decide to stop searching in Google’s current format, you know the exact number of search results. You can make an informed decision about where to stop or how many results to peruse because you know where the end is. According to studies8 conducted in the field of human-computer interaction, reaching an end point provides a sense of control; you know that you have received all relevant results, and you know whether the one you are looking for is there or not. Knowing the number of results available provides a sense of control and helps the user make a more informed decision, rather than be left to scour an infinitely scrolling list.

Pagination: The Click Barrier9
Pagination is a barrier of clicks. (Large version10)

When items are distributed across Web pages, they are framed and indexed and have a start and end point. The information is presented clearly and orderly. If we select an item from a paginated list and are taken from that page, we know that clicking “Back” will return us to that page (probably to the same scroll position). Our Web search will continue right where it left off.

If you scroll the same list of results with infinite scrolling, you are left without that sense of control because you are scrolling through a list that is conceptually infinite. Let’s say you count yourself among the 94% who stop reading after the first page (i.e. 10 results) of a Google search. When the list scrolls infinitely, there is essentially no end to the first page. Rather than look for the end of the page, which doesn’t exist anyway, you decide to stop scrolling at the 10th item. This poses a problem with infinite scrolling, because the 11th item is directly in sight. With a paginated list, on which you wouldn’t see the 11th result, deciding not to continue browsing is easier. However, when the next results are already there11, you’d probably just keep on scrolling and scrolling.

As Dmitry Fadeyev points out:

“People will want to go back to the list of search results to check out the items they’ve just seen, comparing them to what else they’ve discovered somewhere else down the list. Having a paginated interface lets the user keep a mental location of the item. They may not necessarily know the exact page number, but they will remember roughly what it was, and the paginated links will let them get there easier.

Not only does the infinite scroll break this dynamic, it also makes it difficult to move up and down the list, especially when you return to the page at another time and find yourself back at the top, being forced to scroll down the list once again and wait for the results to load. In this way the infinite scroll interface is actually slower than the paginated one.”

— Dmitry Fadeyev, When Infinite Scroll Doesn’t Work12

When Infinite Scrolling Fails

The best companies are constantly testing13 and studying14 new interactions with their users. Increasing numbers of these studies are showing that infinite scrolling does not resonate15 with users if it does not support their goal on the website.


When you’re looking for that perfect search result and are tempted to continue scrolling into a wasteland of irrelevant results, time is wasted. Chances are that the best result will appear in the first 10 items. Therefore, infinite scrolling merely tempts you16 to continue reading, wasting time and decreasing productivity in the process.


Even more annoying is that scroll bars do not reflect the actual amount of data available. You’ll scroll down happily assuming you are close to the bottom, which by itself tempts you to scroll that little bit more, only to find that the results have just doubled by the time you get there.


Infinite scrolling overwhelms users with stimuli. Like playing a game that you can never win, no matter how far you scroll, you feel like you’ll never get to the end. The combination of temptation and optimism play a big role in exhausting the user.


Infinite scrolling often causes your position on the page to get lost. “Pogosticking” happens when you click away from an infinitely scrolling list and, when you return by clicking “Back,” are brought to the top of the previous page, instead of to the point where you left off. This happens because the scroll position is lost when you navigate away from an infinitely scrolling page, forcing you to scroll back down each time.

Loss of Control

Infinite scrolling leaves you with the feeling that you might be missing out on information. You continue scrolling because the results are right there, but you feel overwhelmed because you’re losing control over the amount of data being shown. There is something nice about defined pages on which the amount of content is quantified, where you can comfortably choose whether to click to view more or to stop. With infinite scrolling, you don’t have control over the amount of data on the page, which becomes overwhelming.


Etsy17, an e-commerce marketplace, implemented infinite scrolling, only to find that it led to fewer clicks18 from its users. Infinite scrolling was unsuccessful because users felt lost in the data and had difficulty sorting between relevant and irrelevant information. While infinite scrolling provided faster and more results, users were less willing19 to click on them, defeating its very purpose.

Etsy's Home Page20
Etsy’s home page (Large version21)


Have you tried reaching the footer of Facebook lately? The footer block exists below the news feed, but because the feed scrolls infinitely, more data gets loaded as soon as you reach the bottom, pushing the footer out of view every time. Footers exist for a reason: they contain content that the user sometimes needs. In Facebook’s case, the user can’t reach it. The links are repeated elsewhere but are harder to find. Infinite scrolling impedes the user by making important information inaccessible.

Facebook auto-loading News Feed and the unreachable footer22
Facebook’s auto-loading news feed makes the footer unreachable. (Large version23)

Footers serve as a last resort. If users can’t find something or they have questions or want more information or explanation, they often go there. If they don’t find it there, they might leave the website altogether. Companies that implement infinite scrolling should either make the footer accessible by making it sticky24 or relocate the links to a sidebar.

Not Exclusive

Pinterest25 does not have a footer at all, which makes sense given the problem we just saw with Facebook. Through infinite scrolling, Pinterest emphasizes its profusion of data, an endless sea of inspiration taken from all over the Web.

Pinterest Ocean of Pins26
Pinterest’s ocean of pins (Large version27)

Images are faster and easier to scroll than text, so Pinterest and Google Images succeed with infinite scrolling to an extent. However, billions of images28 are on the Web, and users would prefer to see only the best of them. There is something to be said for exclusivity, which seems to be lacking in Pinterest’s layout.

Limiting the number of images on Pinterest’s home page, with an “Editor’s picks” or “Most popular” list, might make the website more appealing. How exclusive can a pin be when a ton of other similar pins are next to it?

Pinterest’s tactic of using infinite scrolling for its plethora of data suffers because it overwhelms users29. The collection looks bottomless, but its immensity is somewhat daunting, and browsing it might seem a waste of time. Ultimately, Pinterest is trying to expose users to infinite inspiration30, but that actually undermines the human need for control31. The amount of data becomes intimidating, and users are left with mixed feelings.

When Usability Wins

As mentioned earlier, Twitter integrates infinite scrolling effectively. The user sees an infinitely growing list of tweets and can comfortably click on a tweet to expand it in place, preventing the page from refreshing and, as a result, maintaining their scroll position.

Twitter's torn feed32
Twitter’s torn feed (Large version33)

On its mobile version, Twitter even adds a “torn paper” marker, indicating to the user where to resume reading. This subtle and simple solution enables the user to scroll up and down the list, while having a recognizable point to return to. Psychologically, that marker reassures the reader by dividing read and unread content. Such markers give the user a sense of control and a better perception of the content’s depth and how far they’ve gotten into it.

Twitter is not the only one. Discourse34, an emerging discussion platform, also has infinite scrolling that empowers the user. The company considered the importance of infinite scrolling to its user experience and implemented an intriguing and unique progress indicator. The indicator appears when needed and remains in view (without interfering) while the user reads the content. The indicator numbers the item currently being viewed out of the total number of items. This is a great way to make the user feel in control, even with a lot of data.

Smart progress indicator on Discourse.com35
The smart progress indicator on Discourse (Large version36)

Go Hybrid

A hybrid of infinite scrolling and pagination is also a good option in many cases. With this solution, you would show a “load more” button at the end of a preloaded list, which, when clicked, loads another batch of items onto the list. The same behavior that infinite scroll does automatically, this button does on demand. The interface gains some of the advantages of infinite scrolling, without some of its drawbacks.

Because infinite scrolling requires the website to fetch so much content, the hybrid solution is used at times to control the data load. In Facebook’s news feed and Google’s image search, the infinite scrolling is automatic at first but becomes on-demand once a certain number of items have loaded. This maintains the interface while limiting the load on the server.

Hybrid Infinite Pagination on Google Images37
Hybrid infinite pagination on Google Images (Large version38)

Infinite Pages

Infinite pages39 take the concept of infinite scrolling to a new level. Websites that employ this concept are “one-pagers.” To remove the barrier of clicking to the next page, the designer turns the entire website into one long scrollable page. Examples are Unfold40 and Lost World’s Fairs41.

On these one-page websites, the sections are spread vertically, one after another. This makes the whole website less comprehensible — hence, less accessible. These websites might not have infinite scrolling, but the user might still have that feeling of a never-ending page.

On infinite pages, the height of each section will vary according to its contents. Although the approach can make for some creative interactions, it can leave users disoriented and unsure where to scroll for the next piece of information. The scroll bar is hidden on many such pages, leaving users feeling lost as they unconsciously look for the scroll position42 to track their progress. Hidden scroll bars deprive users of that chance for rescue. Users shouldn’t be left helpless; the interface should clearly show them how to navigate the page.

Infinite Page
Not knowing where they stand can leave the users disoriented.

UX engineers need to take extra care when designing infinite pages. They must take into account accessibility; tell users where they stand by showing the length of the page and how much they’ve viewed. Solutions could include a fixed menu43, a map of the page44 or a scroll progress bar45.

Another trick is the parallax effect46, whereby different layers on the page move at different speeds according to the user’s scrolling, creating the illusion of depth (as seen on Andrew McCarthy’s website47). While it can help to create beautiful48 and innovative49 experiences, it is sometimes heavily overused, and users can get confused by how much they need to scroll for more content. When the parallax effect is combined with animation, the user can get confused about whether the page is being scrolled by their movement or is moving autonomously. It’s wise to use the technique to enhance content, not as the content itself.

Let’s Get To The Bottom Of This

Infinite scrolling can be an innovative feature that greatly improves an interface by exposing content and making performance more efficient. But it needs to be used correctly.

Avoid the following sinkholes to achieve a strong infinite scrolling experience:

  • Users want immediate access to exclusive data.
    Users don’t want to be left to explore all of a website’s data on their own. When implementing infinite scrolling, identify what data is exclusive to your website and elevate it to the top of the page, and filter less relevant information.
  • Users want to feel in control.
    Infinite scrolling sabotages that feeling of control. Add a smart progress indicator, a fixed menu or a map.
  • Users often look for landmarks when scrolling.
    When scrolling through long lists, users expect to be able to easily distinguish between new and viewed data. Add landmarks along the interface to keep users oriented.
  • Consider conventional pagination or a hybrid solution.
    Good old pagination is always an alternative to infinite scrolling. And if that doesn’t fit the context, then a hybrid solution, using a “load more” button, could greatly enhance the interface.
  • Provide interesting content without an ambiguous interface.
    Having to traverse a never-ending list is logical only if the user leaves feeling that it was worthwhile.
  • Users often expect a footer.
    If footer-type information is functional to the interface, then it should appear at the bottom of the page. A fixed footer is usually the way to go with infinite scrolling.
  • An infinite list is still a list.
    Infinite scrolling still needs to meet common interface standards. Whether users take their eyes off the screen for a moment or click a link and then click “Back,” they expect to return to the exact point where they left off. Whatever your interface, make sure it meets users’ expectations.
  • Effects are nice to have but not a must.
    Many infinitely scrolling interfaces have various effects to show more data (whether by sliding in new content or another method). Be mindful not to focus more on effects than on presenting data in the most effective way possible.

Use It Correctly

Users are goal-oriented and find satisfaction in reaching the end of their exploration. To be effective, infinite scrolling has to account for this. Nothing is really infinite, not even these infinitely scrolling lists we’ve looked at. Users should always know where they stand, even when the content has not finished loading. They should know what the total amount of data is and be able to easily navigate the list. Infinite scrolling has to be implemented in the best possible way so that users can always find their way.



  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Yogev Ahuvia is a Senior Front End Engineer at Fundbox. Yogev is a UX expert and a code artist (see his CodePen profile) and he writes and speaks on blogs and events. You can find him on his Twitter account @kindofone or on his blog.

  1. 1

    I hate infinite scroll so much .. I googled “I hate infinite scroll” to see if I was out of my mind and I came up with this article. Sigh… I’m not alone.
    Honestly…it comes to the point where I will leave a page as soon as I realize it is infinite because it’s a research/archive/reference nightmare trying to find something again and the loading is so jumpy I have no idea which way to go to find what I think I wanted to look at.
    I’m not sure I have ever found a site that has a truly useful and eloquent application of infinite scroll. The only tolerable use is when the data is actually pretty limited and has an end to the infinite.
    The use of infinite scroll in my opinion is not about a great user experience and I am sad it is redefining the standards of navigation. I very much hope that it is only a stepping stone to a better place and will fall into the been-there-done-that black hole very soon.

    • 52

      Good for mobile, under the right circumstances. Pagination touch-targets can be irritating in that environment.

      Terrible for desktop.

    • 103

      Infinite scroll is a double edge sword in a sense. In one hand you want the user to stay on one page. While that can be a good user experience, it can also be really bad if this user has a slow internet connection because now they have to wait each time and it looks like the browser is freezing.

      Another thing to understand is that in terms of SEO infinite scroll is not a good idea. In fact you are better off using something like click to display function with jQuery. e.g “click to read more”. This way search engine crawlers can follow this as well. The problem is that search engine crawlers cant mimic the user behaviour of scrolling so most of your content may not get indexed.

  2. 154

    Great article – it expresses well the dissatisfaction I experience when dealing with sites that employ infinite scrolling. (I use Facebook only for a business page where I post occasionally, and I have been rigorously pruning older messages to allow readers to get to the end of the page in short time.)

    There is one more reason why I don’t like infinite scrolling: in many cases it makes saving a page (not just what you see on screen but the html source text) impossible.

    And LinkedIn sure gets the prize for using infinite scrolling in the most unintuitive way possible: when you scroll down their long list of new public posts (the headline on the left side of the page) and click on an item, they move you back to the top of the list, with the article that you just opened placed at the top, as well. That way not only the order of the articles in the list changes but you have to scroll down the whole list once more if you want to continue where you had left off.


  3. 205

    Alexander Ewering

    December 10, 2014 3:23 pm

    Whoever has “invented” infinite scrolling is an idiot. This is by far the most annoying “innovation” since the first web server at CERN, I can’t believe how people can come up with such crap. A web page is, in the end, a virtual representation of a real world object — a PAGE. When did you last see an infinite piece of paper? An

    Oh, and don’t let me get started about people who actually pay for the bandwidth.

  4. 256

    Whoever invented infinite scrolling, please invent nothing else. Infinite scrolling has been the most frustrating technology to deal with. It ruined Flickr. Go ahead and see for yourself. When pagination is not used, when you scroll so far, the scroll bar resets itself to somewhere many photo’s before. However, last visit to Flickr, they are running some beta redesign. Infinite scrolling is ruining Facebook photos. If there are hundreds of thousands of photo’s, Facebook puts the photo’s in memory. Eventually, your computer will lose memory. A quick look through Process Explorer, the browser might show 2GB memory! I assume Facebook does this so it doesn’t have to send the pictures again. Awful design. Pinterest uses it but they seem to have the most user friendly approach. No memory issues. However, the flaw with Pinterest is common in all of them: pogosticking. I am glad I read this article because I now have the proper word to describe the frustrating movement of the scroll bar. Finally, Tumblr. However, Tumblr allows themes so it really depends on the theme. I can’t fully fault Tumblr if they give the ability to modify the page. Anyway, Infinite Scrolling may have made some short sighted web developers smile at themselves but it’s an awful approach that frustrates. It really should never be used. It’s horrible!

  5. 307

    I hate infinite scrolling with a passion. I don’t use mobile devices so maybe the experience is different there, but its totally annoying on a desktop/laptop. I’m grabbing the scroll bar and dragging down, all of a sudden the whole page moves and I have to relocate to where I just was. moving up and down trying to find it as more content loads. I was just on the latimes site where you get send to a totally new page and when you scroll back up, the original article is no longer there. Its like reading a real paper on the opinion and you were going to look back to the top of the page to read the cartoon and by the time you shift your eyes back to the top, someone ripped the paper out of your hands and handed you the sports page. I don’t want the sports page, lemme back to where I originally was.

  6. 358

    There is so much info in the original post, and there are so many thoughtful replies, that I can’t be sure if someone already mentioned this, but for me a major drawback to infinite scrolling is the inability to choose/control what content will be saved if I want to save a local copy of a web page.

    On some sites (e.g., it is almost impossible to save a single news article web page (and its relevant comments) without another news web page automatically loading at the bottom. Furthermore, at the next automatically loaded web page has a different URL and page title, which further interferes with saving a (relatively) clean, properly titled local copy of the desired article unless you scroll ‘Back’ in the browser history.

    I can certainly understand the potential advantages, but for the most part I dislike infinite scrolling (for many of the reasons already mentioned by others), with maybe the only exception (IME) being image search results. And even with image search results, infinite scrolling has potential disadvantages already mentioned above.

  7. 409

    This article explains in a highly scientific way something obvious which we have always felt at first glance.
    But for the brain dead designers of google images, who obviously have absolutely no sence of user friendly design, this must be done – explanation of somethng obvious witch patience and love as if you are explaining to a 5 year old.
    We have never liked the infinite scrolling. The google image search, since it became the ways it is, has been just a pain.
    We’ve ALL felt the frustration when the scroll suddenly jumps upwards to accomodate the new results that have automatically appeared and instead of clicking on the scroll, you click in the empty space which moves it down skipping about 30 images.
    Its totally unpredictable and very unintuitive.
    When you scroll down the scroll reaches abot 3/4 of the length and then bam it suddenly jumps up decreasing in size (which indicates more results on the page).
    If thats not user unfriendly, i dont know what is.

    Not to get started on the insane amount of imaging material at any one time on the screen which strains the eyes and gives you headache. Absolutely no spacing between images makes it look like one big image. Scrolling down just lets you know that this image is infinite.
    Different number of images per row makes it look chaotic and confusing giving you no sence of order and straining your brain.
    Almost as if its optimized for FBI agents who need to go over years and years worth of archived newspaper articles to look for specific information with short critical deadlines because if they dont find it quickly enoough some terrible crime may happen.

  8. 460

    To Infinity . . . !

    March 21, 2015 5:40 pm

    “an efficient way to browse that ocean of information.” That’s bull. There is nothing efficient about it. Everything is harder to do, more disorganized, and lacking in even common sense. There are reasons that books have pages, and aren’t just one long piece of paper. Infinite scrolling is a symptom of the giant egos that are running tech these days. They all think that they’re geniuses just because they can do a little programming. Their moms need to grab them by the ear and give them a good smack.

  9. 511

    I never, hear me? NEVER! stay on pages or blogs with infinite scrolling, such as fakebook etc. Most idiotic “invention” that should have died out in 1999.

    • 562

      As soon as infinite scrolling kicks in, they have just wasted my bandwidth and computer memory downloading stuff I will not read. Just as with auto-playing videos in Facebook, I will not tolerate it. It must be stopped, and it must be done by a preference in my browser. I use various Firefox add-ins to stop Flash and other media content autoplaying. Now I have to find something that can stop *this* abomination!

  10. 613

    Today’s companies, corporations and governments have a device:


    Planned Obsolescence, Chemtrails, Software “Upgrades”, “New” “Better” Models in Electronics and Cars, it is all made to annoy the hell out of the consumer, to create stress and thus depopulate.

    The reason – depopulation, eugenics and it all comes from their little satanist brains.

  11. 664

    One example of bad web design…infinite scrolling on every single page of your website, plus putting all of your informational links at the bottom of those pages. I would think that even a novice could not overlook such a blunder, but I just learned about the Open Sky website and went to check it out. It took me 5 minutes of trying to race to the bottom and beat the new photo loads before I could access the ” about us ” link. And after finally getting to that page, I discover that they even have endless loading of product images on that page as well. I find it very unprofessional, as well as extremely frustrating. Talk about pushy salesmanship. It definitely does not make for a better user experience. I don’t know why they bother putting those links there at all if they are going to make it so difficult to click on them.


Leave a Comment

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic! Please keep in mind that comments are moderated and rel="nofollow" is in use. So, please do not use a spammy keyword or a domain as your name, or else it will be deleted. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation instead. Thanks for dropping by!

↑ Back to top