Do you like to design your website with scroll bars? That might not seem very important, however it is. In reality, website usability and the question of scrolling is one of the most important ones out there.
One of those everlasting questions of web design is whether users are okay with scrolling, or whether they dislike it. In fact, the answer lies somewhere the middle: a lot of users don’t mind scrolling, but there are plenty of users who still don’t scroll. You should be building your website so that scrolling isn’t necessary for Basic usability,but gives additionl value.
Ever since the early period of the web, people have become much more open to scrollable pages, thanks to mouse wheels and similar gadgets. These let them scroll with a quick flip, instead of the hassle it used to take. Therefore, your visitors will be much more eager to scroll on your website than they used to be, and this works to your benefit.
The answer, when it comes to scrolling, is to be nice about it. Place everything significant in a place that allows it to be found with no scrolling even on small screens. Give your users the option of whether to click or scroll, by connecting to the individual parts of the article at the top of the page in a table of contents.
Regardless you should keep your scrolling perpendicular. Left-to-right scrolling on the web is not advised. Users are not expecting it, mouse wheels cannot do it, and web browsers aren’t built for it. In short, it is not a good idea. Every once in a while a designer will attempt to make it work, only to produce a frustrating website. So far, there hasn’t been a good horizontally scrolling website.
Another ordinary design error when it comes to scroll bars is to think that you can do it better than the web browser, and use Flash to create abnormal scroll bars. While you might like the look you generate, it will certainly be less useful to your visitors than a normal scroll bar would have been.
If you use flash on your scroll bar it won’t be instantly familiar as what it is. It’s not likely to work with mouse wheels or keyboard shortcuts, and you probably won’t even let users scroll by clicking in the accurate way they want. You end up designing a scroll bar that’s perfect for you, but annoying for everyone else. Even though you might think the original scroll bars are ugly, people know how they work, and they’re used to them.
Even if you dislike scroll bars, it’s always a bad idea to replace them with pagination. An article can effortlessly become three or four pages long with the user having to click a ‘next’ button to get from one page to the next. If you think users dislike scrolling, then you have to understand that they dislike waiting for new pages to load even more: if your site needs them to wait for more than a few seconds between pages, they’ll get rid of articles even if they’re in the middle of reading them.
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English: Horizontal and vertical scrollbars in gedit (GPL) under Linux, Clearlooks-Darklime GTK2 theme (GPL). The text field contains ARM7 assembly code. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Scroll bars with text box (Photo credit: Wikipedia)