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The pros and cons of long scrolling pages


The way we present ourselves online is instrumental in achieving brand success, and one of the most popular ways of improving site appearance at present is through the use of long scrolling webpages. Before jumping on the bandwagon; if you are considering utilising a long scrolling website, we've made a list of some of the major pros and cons.

We can all agree that looks go a long way. The way something looks plays a paramount role  in creating a first impression, and can be the key driver in building relationships and moreover, building business. It goes without saying then that the way we present ourselves online is instrumental in achieving brand success, and one of the most popular ways of improving site appearance at present is through the use of long scrolling webpages.

Long scrolling pages, or tall pages as they are commonly known, are best described as sites that are built around one page that includes a variety of content that would traditionally have been divided amongst a number of pages accessible from the navigation bar. There are a number of reasons why this format has become so popular, but there are also some pitfalls to be cautious of before jumping on the bandwagon; so if you are considering utilising a long scrolling website, here are some of the major pros and cons:

The Pros:

Great for storytelling

Long scrolling sites give users a clear start and end point, starting at the top of the page, and working their way down through content which ultimately works as a fluid narrative for your brand. Furthermore, with the addition of parallax scrolling which sees various on-page elements moving at different speeds as users scroll, creating a layered effect; long scrolling sites create a level of immersion and engagement that traditional webpages pale to provide in comparison.

Great for mobile and touchscreen

Let’s face it; most of us have experienced the frustration of accidentally thumbing a link on a webpage while all we wanted to do was scroll. Overcoming this common annoyance, is the long scrolling web page, devoid of numerous links and tabs in favour of columns of content that can be scrolled to or scrolled past, creating a more convenient experience for the user.

Gives users greater control

While this may seem contradictory to traditional web pages that allow users to click through links to reach the content that is relevant to them, long scrolling pages allow users to quickly move past content that is irrelevant to them at the push of a finger. Gone are the days of waiting for the next page to load; users want to get to the right content faster, and long scrolling pages just might be the answer. Furthermore, with the inclusion of parallax scrolling, users have the ability to control the experience at their own pace, and ultimately control their engagement on site.

The Cons:

Sluggish site speeds

We know these things to be true – visitors online like their content to be engaging, and they want it fast. Unfortunately, when it comes to delivering this experience through long scrolling pages, the results have been known to fall short of the mark. By confining a large amount of content that can vary from videos to animation and images all on one page, loading speeds are considerably slower than most traditional sites that divide content amongst numerous pages. Longer waiting times can frustrate your visitors and have them bouncing off the page. Additionally, with so much content on one page, users can easily find themselves overwhelmed and hesitant to continue reading further.

SEO struggles

It’s a fair generalisation that most brands have a range of products or services that speak to a number of different consumers, and as such, dividing content amongst pages dedicated to these categories is necessary. This is great from a search engine optimisation standpoint as you have the ability to optimise specific content around refined keywords that are likely to drive searchers to your site organically. In contrast, long scrolling pages sees a variety of information confined to one page, making the task of keyword relevance a struggle and leaving your site at risk of dropping away in the search engine results.

Navigation

Having content embedded all on one page can seem like a big plus for users, but without a way to navigate quickly to the content they are after, this can lead to frustration. Additionally, for return users who already know the content they are after, they typically won’t want to sift through the many chapters of content on the page in order to get to the information that is relevant to them. In addition, for most sites the footer is recognised as a placeholder for valuable links such as contact information. With long scrolling pages, it takes a significantly longer time to reach this information, and as such, sticky footers should be considered.

Should you get on board?

The case for and against is fairly balanced, but here are some points to keep in mind:

Long scrolling sites are great for phone and tablet users – so if the services of products you are offering are likely to viewed while your target audience is on the go, long scrolling sites are a good option. With this in mind, we recommend that you keep a close eye on the amount of content you include, because this can overwhelm users more so than desktop and can amplify the number of scrolls required when your site is viewed on smaller screens.

Additionally, try to keep SEO at the top of your priority list. A site that looks great is one thing, but being found – that’s another, and it’s far more important if you are looking to grow your business. If your site is focused around one primary product or service, for example a local florist selling flowers in Brisbane, you have greater freedom to tailor keywords to this content. However, if your business offers a number of diverse products and services; promoting your site around a specific set of keywords is going to be a lot more challenging.

So should you get on board with long scrolling pages? The answer really lies in the kind of business you are trying to promote. Take time to review your current site if you have one already and ask yourself if it could use a facelift, or if it lacks elements of engagement and storytelling. If your answers are yes, a long scrolling site is an option you should consider.