5 min read

Pagination vs. Infinite Scroll – Which is Better?

Every website’s content is unique. After putting a lot of time and effort into your website’s content, you will want to create a browsing experience that will match. This is a key factor into deciding how to structure your site. You need to organise and show your website’s content in a way that satisfies customers. 

Pagination vs infinite scrolling

Modern websites can basically be separated into two categories of content organisation. These two categories are;

  • Paginated sites: these divide content into different pages ex. Google
  • Infinite scrolling sites: these place all of the websites content which place everything on one page

Both of these types of content organisation have their pros and cons. Depending on your website content, you can decide which method works best.

Pagination

Pagination is a method wherein, content is separated into different pages on a website. Users can navigate between these pages by clicking on links. These links are often in the form of numbers that are located at the bottom of a page. Paginated content is often related by a common theme or purpose. 

Pagination is used widely across many online businesses. E-commerce websites and informational websites like blogs. Users can select a numbered link at the bottom to jump to a different archive page or jump to a specific page by clicking on an image thumbnail if the blog or informational website has featured image thumbnails for different articles.

Pagination

Infinite Scroll

In this kind of content organisation UX practice, content keeps on loading when a user reaches the bottom of a page. This creates an experience of an endless flow of information on a single seemingly never-ending page. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and image-heavy stock photography websites like Unsplash.

In an infinite scrolling page, there is no need to to click as the web page dynamically populates with new content as users scroll. It implements lazy loading design pattern to render new images when they appear onscreen. 

While both of the content organisations are useful and widespread, they are not interchangeable. There are websites for which pagination works best and others for which infinite scrolling is a better idea. 

Infinite Scroll

Pagination vs. Infinite Scroll

Website developers will need to make a choice between using pagination or infinite scroll website depending on the purpose of your website, content type and intended user experience. Pagination works better on websites where users are looking for specific pieces of content. Whereas infinite scroll is better suited for websites where you want users to discover and explore the content available. Infinite scroll is also much more effective for mobile devices. Pagination and infinite scrolling have different strengths and weaknesses.

Pagination is widely used in in e-commerce websites because it enables better product searching and cataloging. Most users who visit these websites are looking for a particular type of product and only want to view the pages most relevant to what they are looking for.

Alternatively, social media users don’t have a specific reason for visiting the website. They are just looking to be entertained or informed by browsing unique content. This is why most user generated content sites and news sites have infinite scrolling. 

Both pagination ux and infinite scrolling ux have different purposes and influence the user experience of a website. Let us look at how different aspects of a website are influenced by infinite scroll and pagination.

Pagination vs infinite scroll

Engagement

Infinite scroll is designed in a way to boost user engagement and increase the duration of time that users spend on your website. If a majority of your users visit your website with no particular goal in mind, infinite scrolling will continue to roll out relevant content in a way that is efficient, digestible and interruption-free. 

Pagination, on the other hand, works better for getting users to their desired content as soon as possible. The negative aspect of pagination is that it makes freeform exploration more time-consuming, as users will need to keep clicking on “next” and wait for new pages to load. 

One way to combat this inconvenience is to lengthen the individual pages and optimise for load time.

In infinite scrolling too, the loading time can become slow. The more visitors scroll, the more content needs to be loaded, slowing down page performance. This can be solved for by reducing image sizing only to what is required to reduce the bandwidth used.

Engagement

Ease of Use

If your website content is paginated, it allows users to become familiar with your site’s layout. As long your pages are well-organised, your users won’t have a problem clicking between them. However the aim should still be to reduce clicks as much as possible, since users expect to click as little as possible to achieve their goals on a website.

If your website content is better suited for infinite scroll, your site’s ease of use will stand out. For most people, simply scrolling to reveal more content comes a lot more naturally. It is fast, easy, intuitive and responsive. Users not only appreciate this kind of positive user experience, they have come to expect it.

Additionally, infinite scroll is also much more user-friendly on touch screens. Infinite scroll was initially built for mobile devices because it minimises button-pressing, which can be extremely frustrating on phones. 

Ease of Implementation

Most website builders default to pagination for content structuring. When building a website, pagination features are available out of the box. However adding infinite scrolling takes some more work on the part of the website publisher. They require some add-on features or a developer who can implement infinite scrolling. Transitioning a website from pagination to infinite scroll will also require some effort to restructure your site’s organisation. However the workload is well worth the effort.

Visual Appeal

Infinite scroll is definitely more visually appealing which makes it perfect for photo sharing websites, portfolios and other websites that rely heavily on visuals.

Conclusion

Both of these UX approaches work differently for different websites. Based on your content, choose the approach best suited for you. Test both of these methods to get data driven insights to find out which approach your users prefer – pagination or infinite scroll.

Published by Venky Hariharan

Lead UX Designer

Venky

Venky Hariharan Lead UX Designer