The concept of websites that let you scroll down through extended webpages has been around for many years. Some users love them and are highly attracted to sites designed in this format. The use of mobile devices for surfing the internet have added to the popularity of long-scrolling webpages. The small screen is especially good for scrolling as opposed to using buttons to navigate to a different page. But long-scrolling or infinite-scrolling alone does not mean that the user is going to stay on your website for an extended time.
Early web design followed the same rules as newspapers: the most important content was “above the fold,” which means it was always placed at the top of the page and definitely on the landing page. Today this idea still applies to certain things like blog post teasers, but not necessarily to the average website. The landing page may still contain the main information and maybe a teaser, but it may not actually contain all of the relevant information a person is looking for.
Consider that when you click on something on a webpage you have made a conscious decision to go to the next page. With a long-scrolling webpage the user just keeps scrolling and the real decision is when to stop scrolling. This different type of decision is what makes using long-scrolling webpages a challenge. When do you decide to stop?
Curiously, endless scrolling webpages do not necessarily cause a higher bounce rate. When done correctly, long-scrolling pages keep the user entertained. This keeps the user on your website longer and the longer a person stays the more likely they are to react to your call to action (e.g. purchase something).
So users will keep scrolling as long as the content is interesting to them. If they notice that the content has become irrelevant to them they are likely to abort and move on. It is the challenge to the web designer to create continually interesting and pertinent content as the page continues. Many times this means telling a story. Alternating back and forth between text, pictures, and videos does make long-scrolling pages more interesting.
A long-scrolling webpage actually gives the user a feeling of control. Having control over where you are on a website is very important to user satisfaction. Users move along a scrolling webpage at their own pace. They can stay on content that interests them for a longer time while scrolling past content that does not interest them. Needing to scroll down a webpage keeps the user focused and on topic instead of breaking their attention with the need to click around to other pages within the site. Clicking a link button not only breaks attention it also creates a delay. If the next page takes too long to load the user is very likely going to move on to another website.
A big challenge for the web designer is how long should the long-scrolling webpage really be. Too long and the customer can feel overwhelmed. That is not good and can lead to lost customers. Unfortunately there is no guideline as to how long to make this type of page. It will depend on the topic and how you are presenting it. Be sure to ask for feedback from others.