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The trouble with infinite scroll

As a busy working mum, I need the websites I use to be intuitive. We’re always doing ten things at once, and we need to be able to get to the information we need quickly and efficiently. Ambiguous, cluttered and complicated websites with infinite scroll have me navigating away before I’ve even started to read.

Being totally honest, if text isn’t neatly aligned, images are pixellated or poor quality, payment gateways look a little worse for wear or spacing between items on the page isn’t well thought out, I also close the tab – but I think that’s just my background in web design (and my finicky nature!)

Infinite scroll is a technique used by some web designers to keep us on their pages for longer. The average website user spends just 45 seconds on a website, and infinite scroll aims to stretch that time out by giving website visitors endless information or product choices to keep them scrolling down and reduce the need to navigate between pages. Think of it like visiting a restaurant that keeps bringing out dish after dish to keep you in your seat. But there’s a downside to endless supply – the food may be delicious, but more than likely you’re not going to end the meal feeling too great. And likewise, endlessly scrolling through an infinite webpage may keep you engaged at the time, but when you eventually look up from your phone in a daze you’re unlikely to remember why you visited the site in the first place. Social media is the prime example, with Instagram and Facebook feeds that are literally endless, plus algorithms to keep showing you relevant content, but we’ve all seen it sales and coaching websites too, with those loooooong pages setting out the problem, offering the solution, offering the social proof, closing the deal, repeating the point fifty different ways with the call to action repeated hundreds of times.

It’s in our nature to complete a job, whether it’s reading a magazine article in full or listening to a podcast from start to finish. Infinite scroll exploits this natural urge – and that’s where I feel it gets creepy. It’s easy to become addicted to scrolling down and down because we want to reach the end – we don’t want to feel like we’re missing out. The guy who invented infinite scroll back in 2006 is called Aza Raskin, and he designed it initially to improve things online by creating a seamless user experience but has since apologised for his invention. Although infinite scroll fulfils the brief of keeping users onsite, it is not conducive to a good user experience and wastes endless hours of productivity (as well as having implications for our mental and physical health).

While we’re scrolling through social media feeds and websites with never-ending pages, what are we missing out on? Productive work? Engaging with our kids? Exercising? Spending time outside? Taking time to rest and re-energise? Reaching out to people who need us? I know I have been guilty of it so many times, which is why I want to be part of the solution.

Respect my time | Don’t keep me online

So, we have just 45 seconds to captivate our website visitor, without resorting to shady techniques like infinite scroll or 25 foot sales pages. How do we show prospective clients that we’re the expert for them within those 45 seconds? How do we capture their imaginations and help them make that next step?

Keep clutter free
This is the single most important key to catching your client’s eye. Your headers should be easy to read, your website should feel well spaced and uncluttered, images should be of great quality and carefully chosen – the goal isn’t to keep the visitor clicking through, it’s to show them what you have to offer in a way that feels modern, easy to understand and uncluttered. Look at absolutely everything you have on your site, from images to background images to copy – if I asked you to edit out half of everything there, what would you keep? What would you reword? What would you convert to video format or infographic to allow clients to take in the information without being overloaded?

Stay on brand
Use a well considered and complimentary colour pallet – a rainbow of tones and hues leaves users feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. Keep your photos on brand, preferably all from the same photoshoot and edited in the same way. Use a maximum of three fonts – a decorative cursive adds a gorgeous flourish, but should be contrasted with an easy to read, accessible font for headers and body text.

Demonstrate your relevance
Your client needs to know whether you’re within their price range and where you are based (if you offer a physical service) so they know whether you’re relevant to them – it’s frustrating to spend time scrolling through an endless website and investing time in a brand before getting in touch and finding they’re way out of your price range or can’t work with you. Put yourself in your client’s shoes – what else might they be doing while they’re browsing your site? Are you attempting to connect with busy working mums who might also be cooking dinner or running to pick up the kids from school? Corporate clients who might be between meetings? You need to assume that your client is busy while they’re using your website – look at everything through their eyes to make sure the information they need is easy to navigate to and find.

Go deeper for those who choose to
Some people may well want to learn a lot more about you and set aside time to read in long form, and that’s where your ‘About’ page comes in. Ensure you have plenty of information (again, well set out and easy to read through) for people who want to understand more about your proposition, values and you as a person before they invest and commit. Use a mix of formats, with videos, photos and longer copy, and use blog posts to outline your values (as I’m doing here) and proposition.

Have confidence!
You trust yourself. You trust your brand. You trust what you have to offer and you know it represents great value for your client. Yes, we need to sell ourselves to an extent, but there’s a huge amount of confidence in being able to say to clients “Here I am, here’s what I have to offer” without needing to convince them or delay them on site. You know you’re good enough and you don’t need to resort to shady tricks.

If you’re concerned about screen time and want to be part of the solution, get in touch. We can design you a modern, uncluttered and beautiful website to connect with your clients and show them how much they stand to gain from working with you. I have lots of happy clients, from boxing gyms to e-commerce brands to business coaches and corporates and I have tonnes of experience in streamlining brand message and presenting clients with everything they needed to choose you. Book a call, send me an email or fill out the form to get started!

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