Scrolling Redeemed

Page scrolling is a browser feature that was once shunned because the physical act of manipulating a web page with a mouse disturbed users’ “cognitive flow” (otherwise known as “patience”). But that was before mobile. Now, due to the predominance of small screens that can only show a tiny portion of a page’s content at a time, users have no choice but to scroll to read or find something. This would be bad except that mobile screens can be scrolled much faster by flicking a finger instead of dragging a computer mouse. The overall user experience is actually better since, with little effort, a whole page can be browsed in a few seconds.

Now that scrolling is being embraced, best practices have arisen to support scrolling in design. In fact, designing for scrolling opens up new possibilities for creating engaging websites:

… once you start approaching the long scroll as a canvas for illustrating a beginning, middle, and end (through graphics, animations, icons, etc.), then you start to see its film-like power in capturing user attention.

The following is an update that describes current thinking about scrolling and provides some tips on incorporating scrolling successfully in modern website design.

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