Experts predict that online sales in the United States will grow to around $491.5 billion by 2018, so it's unsurprising that new e-commerce sites continue to appear all the time. Website owners want designs and features that encourage customers to browse and make it easy for people to complete their purchases, and web design trends continue to evolve to meet these needs. Long page scrolling is a relatively new design style that is increasingly popular with website owners, but is it right for your new e-commerce pages? Find out here.

The shift to long page scrolling

Early website designs generally worked on the premise that web users were inherently lazy, which meant that designers crammed as much information and content as possible into one page. This type of design meant that visitors didn't need to scroll down the page, mitigating the risk that people would lose interest and click away if they couldn't immediately find what they wanted.

As technology has changed, so have the expectations of web users. Mobile computing means that many people now access the Internet in different ways, and page scrolling is no longer a design faux-pas. Indeed, encouraging users to browse pages can actually improve the experience if you implement the design in the right way.

Improved web analytics show that long page scrolling can increase user engagement, meaning that visitors stay on your site longer. One analysis showed that long page scrolling improved engagement for 20 percent of people who abandoned the website on the home page. Unsurprisingly, these performance statistics mean that many site owners are increasingly interested in the benefits of long page scrolling.

The golden rules of long page scrolling

Like any other design element, long page scrolling isn't suitable for every website, and, what's more, these pages won't fit every e-commerce brand. Consider the following checklist when you want to decide if long page scrolling meets the needs of your e-commerce site.

  • Do/will you rely heavily on mobile traffic? Long page scrolling suits the needs of mobile shoppers because users don't need to repeatedly navigate between pages. Touchscreen smartphones and tablet computers lend themselves well to this type of user experience.
  • Do/will you have detailed product listings containing lots of information? Long page scrolling helps users quickly get to the information they need about a product without clicking through multiple links.
  • Do you intend to publish content in chronological order? For example, pages featuring news updates work well on long page scrolling, as readers can go through the content in reverse order, as far back as necessary. This idea could work well for a blog about design elements in your chosen market.
  • Are your pages rich in different media? Multiple images and videos don't work so well on long page scrolling because they can slow down page load times. In turn, this can alienate users (particularly people on mobile devices), which defeats the object.

The products you intend to sell probably have the strongest influence over your decision to migrate to long page scrolling. If your business model relies on a high-volume, low-value transaction model, long page scrolling may not add much value to the user experience. Alternatively, if you market luxury goods, this design feature can help you increase customer engagement, which can ultimately drive better sales conversion.

The perils of infinite scrolling

For many site owners, infinite scrolling is a logical extension to the principle of long page scrolling. With infinite scrolling, users never need to navigate away from the page because all the content sits on one infinite screen. Popular social networks generally use this feature in their users' news feeds, as this helps people catch up on all the gossip on one page.

Infinite scrolling is less effective for e-commerce designs because it isn't a good way to manage a user's expectation. Infinite scrolling makes it harder to intuitively understand if you have viewed all the details of a particular product or product range. In some cases, visitors to an e-commerce site may find this approach confusing or misleading, so it's generally better to have a fixed long page design that still has a clear start and finish.

Infinite scrolling can also cause performance issues. With inefficient background routines, the browser has to continually work harder to render the page for you. Slow page loading times are a good way to turn visitors away, so it's worth putting limits on the size of pages you want to use this feature on.

Long page scrolling is a simple design element that can increase the time users spend on your website. For e-commerce site owners, this is an attractive benefit, but it's worth considering your products and target market before you invest in this design.

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