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What are the arguments for and against blocks vs horizontal scrolling on a ecommerce page?

Below are two examples, one from amazon and one from bestbuy

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  • I should note this is just for mobile... just for ecommerce... and just for the landing page. Our search results page (even on mobile) is much more traditional search results (just a list) and unrelated to my question. Above examples show two strategies form BestBuy and Amazon's home pages. – A.com Oct 6 at 14:11
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Based on your screenshot, it looks like your curious about mobile so the following will refer to mobile only interactions.

Inline (Blocks)

Great for showing off chunks of content users can quickly browse through. I would use this approach for search results, category pages, etc.

Most users browse this way. Once we open a site or an app, we immediately begin scrolling down until we find something we are looking for or if something catches our attention. This is the most common pattern across eCom sites—web and native.

Note: Not a great pattern for long collections, unless you implement pagination or lazy loading. If i use this on a homepage, i'll be sure to chunk the information similar to your amazon example above.

Horizontal Scroll

Great for compartmentalizing content. I would use this approach if my site has lots of categories.

When looking at the IA of a site, most sites implement horizontal scrolling to save vertical screen space and group content together at the cost of some content being hidden from the user until they interact. This helps frees up vertical space so you can add secondary information, e.g. products descriptions. I don’t see this pattern too often in the wild on the web for eCom site homepages.

Some deltas:

  • Requires users to stop scrolling vertically and scroll horizontally. Not sure if this is really a con but I feel this pattern is more common in native applications than on the web.
  • The design must include some sort of signifier to let the user know there is additional content to the right, e.g. by having some offscreen content ‘peek’.

At the end of the day, It really depends on the user, the type of content, and device users are on. It’s not that black and white. Some patterns are good for some use cases over others. Take a look at what competitors in your space are doing as this will be the user's mental model.

Hopefully this shed some light onto the subject and gives you just enough info to do some research on your own, cheers!

  • Great writeup. The tricky thing is, BestBuy and Amazon are both competitors, and they each do it the opposite way (show in my attachments). – A.com Oct 6 at 14:10
  • Doesn’t hurt to follow amazon. In terms of usability, I feel amazon has a huge leg up compared to Best Buy. – Brandon Crooks Oct 7 at 18:18

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