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I'm working on a website redesign where a lot pages have long content (economical analysis) that the user comes to read. They spend between 5 and 10 minutes on those pages

I was wondering I should include or not some kind of pagination / navigation system in it (like here), or leave a single scrollable page layout (like here).

Curious if you have any feedback on this.

Thanks !

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Please don't, I hate it when on all those news sites you think you read something just to discover a "click here to continue" link. –  PlasmaHH Jun 13 at 15:11
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Whichever option you take, you need to consider how the pages are indexed and how a "find in page" works. The are advantages to the old school approach of load everything in one long page if you can then find the search term that took you there with a simple ctrl+f. Consider - "I know someone posted about x on facebook the other day, now where is it?". There are of course disadvantages as well, and it depends on the type of content. –  Chris H Jun 13 at 15:22
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See this question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/21375/… –  Ken Mohnkern Jun 13 at 20:43

3 Answers 3

When usability is a high priority over things like advertising, I try to avoid page refresh at (almost) all cost. If the analysis is broken into logical sections, you can very well have anchor tags and a floating outline menu following their scroll action.

If you're handy with some CSS and light JavaScript - or just know how to use things like Bootstrap very well - you can combine both pagination and outlines together without much work. Visually this can be very nice as it keeps the page from becoming a mile long but also contains the experience in a tidy single instance package.

Per the comment by @Travis - there are definitely some valid times when pagination is useful and maybe even required. He mentions large listings such as those in real estate and other sectors processing large amounts of info. While I think its great to break things down contextually as far as they'll go, at some point you may still end up with a huge amount of content to display and pagination is a simple and well-understood way for users to interface with that content.

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+1 The only reason to paginate long articles is to give the site owner the opportunity to display more/different adds. There is no benefit to the reader of that article. –  Marjan Venema Jun 13 at 11:00
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+1 pagination is always a negative UX. When it's used, it's sacrificing UX (and assuming the user won't care enough to stop using your site) for the sake of increasing ad revenue. –  R.. Jun 13 at 14:20
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Pagination is not always a negative UX. We've had to implement pagination to improve our user's experience. We have some very data heavy pages that could take in excess of 2 minutes to load. A combination of pagination and lazy loading reduced this down to a couple of seconds. The result, improved user experience. It's not all about advertising. –  nkcedwards Jun 13 at 14:35
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All too often UX professionals forget that there's a non-commercial software front, too. The folks in list processing (or other internal department) deserve UX enhancements just as much as website visitors. There's no ad revenue associated with these applications, but there are definite good reasons to paginate. In a big company, marketing lists can be thousands of names long - paginating by name or demographic or even just every couple hundred can make handling that list much easier. It can be easier to pick the 7th of 10 pages than trying to eyeball ~70% of the scrollbar. –  Travis Jun 13 at 18:59
    
@Travis good point; I meant to promote outline over pagination because they have increased context for jumping around. Still, you're definitely right, things like large listings, legal documents, etc.. commonly have contextual sections greater than what should be handled in a single view area. –  Garet Claborn Jun 16 at 7:53

Have a look at this article about infinite scroll and pagination published on http://www.nngroup.com/, a reference in our field.

Summary: Endless scrolling saves people from having to attend to the mechanics of pagination in browsing tasks, but is not a good choice for websites that support goal-oriented finding tasks.

an excerpt (emphasis is mine):

Infinite scrolling has advantages, but should be applied with caution. Take into account your site’s content and the user’s motivation. Endless scrolling is not recommended for goal-oriented finding tasks, such as those requiring people to locate specific content or compare options.

[...]

The worse offense of infinite scrolling on the desktop is that it plays a nasty trick on users. Infinite scrolling breaks the scroll bar by causing it to display the page length inaccurately. Believe it or not, people still use the scroll bar. People rely on scroll bar to tell them how much “work” is left. It’s not nice to tell people that they’re almost done when they’re not. Play nicely.

Edit : as stipulated by Pixel Elephant in the comments, this answer does not really respond to the question. Since some people upvoted it, I will leave it unless asked not to.

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Endless scroll also breaks the back button since it goes back to the top of the page instead of the current position. –  CodesInChaos Jun 13 at 15:30
    
You are right @CodesInChaos –  Gildas Frémont Jun 13 at 16:25
    
Infinite scrolling was not actually one of the options the asker provided. It was pagination vs. normal scroll. –  Pixel Elephant Jun 13 at 18:00
    
@CodesInChaos there's workarounds to make the back button return to the previous position in infinite scroll instead of the top of the page. –  zigojacko Jun 14 at 11:52
    
What do you think about Ajax-style pagination and filtering in regard to this? Also, @zigojacko , yes this is true. With a little extra effort you can get a lot of more friendliness for SEO and browser history out of ajax. –  Garet Claborn Jun 16 at 8:01

Perhaps consider something similar to LazyLoad which will serve the following benefits:-

  • Content is not loaded until the user scrolls to it thus saving load times for the user if content is lengthily.
  • The page is not reloaded thus less disruption to the readability of the content and again, saving time.
  • The user is not relied on for seeing pagination options and is not disrupted in this nature also.

Something along the lines of this I believe is a win win all round, for the user, for the server, for the search engine. Even an implementation of infinite scroll could work well.

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