An In-Depth Look at the Scrolling Website Trend

April 27, 2015

7:00 pm

While we’re only a few months into 2015, one thing is becoming pretty clear: This is the year of endless scrolling and parallax design. Websites in every niche are investing in redesigns or makeovers, and the appeal of long scrolling layouts is widespread. As a web designer, site owner, or someone preparing to build a new site, have you considered whether this trend applies to you?

Major Websites Headline the Shift 

While smaller niche sites have slowly adopted the new scrolling design trend over the past few months, it’s the shift by major websites and recognizable companies that’s solidified this new design concept in mainstream culture.

Most recently, ESPN redesigned its website. It was the first time the website performed a site-wide makeover since 2009 and shows the confidence major corporations and brands have in this new design trend. After all, it’s not like ESPN.com was hurting for viewers. According to Chris Gayomali of Fast Company, the site averaged 22 million daily users in 2014, up from a healthy nine million the previous year. In other words, ESPN.com sees more daily traffic than BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and CNN.com.

You may have also noticed the scrolling website trend if you’ve ever visited Apple’s iPhone 6 page. In addition to a long scrolling display, Apple adds flare with parallax design features that provide a 3D effect by causing the foreground and background to move at different speeds.

As Tony Messer of Pickaweb says, “We believe this is just the beginning. Responsive websites and parallax design features are increasingly popular both with site owners and site visitors. From a hosting point of view, we’ve seen some pretty systemic changes in the types of websites we’re working with.” 

Reasons for the Scrolling Design Trend 

Specifically, what are those features that are so appealing to site owners? Let’s take a look at a few of the top ones:

  • Longer time on site. As Gayomali astutely points out, “…the humble page view is losing momentum as a preferred metric for wooing advertisers, which means publishers are turning to more advanced metrics to sell their ad inventory, like time spent on a website.” Because of the endless nature of scrolling sites, visitors are sucked into consuming more content per visit and spending more time on sites without even realizing it. This has a direct impact on ad revenue and site recognition. 
  • Shorter load times. Secondly, because users don’t have to click between articles or access a complex navigation menu, load times are shorter. Not only is site speed an SEO factor, but it also leads to a better overall user experience and keeps people coming back for more. 
  • Mobile behaviors. Finally, you can’t forget about the effect mobile behaviors have had on this trend. Because of the amount of time spent on smartphones and mobile devices – with narrow, vertically aligned screens – people are used to browsing within a vertical interface. This design trend essentially mimics social media newsfeeds from sites like Facebook and Twitter, which makes most people feel right at home.

Understanding Whether It’s Right for You

While the scrolling design trend is certainly popular, it’s ultimately a very personal decision. “We’ve seen it work for some websites and dramatically fail with others,” said Messer. If you’re going to invest a lot of time and money into a scrolling redesign, you should weigh the pros and cons before deciding.

According to Wix.com, “Think about it this way – will it be easier for your target audience [to] scroll through your content or click through it? This will help you figure out whether long scrolling is right for you.”

How you respond is up to you, but don’t ignore this trend – whatever you do. This new design trend appears to be popular among users and advertisers, and all indications point to it sticking.

 

Image Credit: Jan Vašek

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Drew Hendricks is a professional business and startup blogger that writes for a variety of sites including The Huffington Post, Forbes and Technorati. Drew has worked at a variety of different startups as well as large advertising agencies.

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