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I just saw the new Conduit website. It features a "reverse scrolling feature" - when you scroll down, the sidebar scrolls ups, and the other way around.

This seems to me like a horrible UX idea. It's counter intuitive, and goes against everything we know about how scrollbars work.

Am I right? Or are there sometimes good reasons for such reverse scrolling?

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    I thought it was pretty weird as well. Definitely doesn't work for me.
    – F21
    Jan 17, 2012 at 5:38
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    It's not bad UX per se because there's no interaction with the sidebar. However, it is incredibly distracting and has some very strange IA (I don't understand the order of the facts).
    – dnbrv
    Jan 17, 2012 at 5:49
  • you are correct. It's horrible.
    – DA01
    Jan 17, 2012 at 5:54
  • For what it's worth, I don't hate it. As mentioned above, there's no interaction with the side panel so the page scrolling is conventional and they've come up with a way to broadcast the marketing content that's interesting if nothing else. But, if more people find it distracting than not, then it's not a good UX.
    – Rob
    Jan 17, 2012 at 9:05
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    @dnbrv "incredibly distracting" = "bad UX". Jan 17, 2012 at 10:09

5 Answers 5

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I wouldn't approach the Conduit website from a UX perspective. I would look at it from an advertisement angle, i.e. as just a gimmick designed to get attention (albeit clumsily, IMO). Print advertisements have been using such a gimmick for years, example:

Two examples of upside down print ads

I cannot think of a good reason to use reverse scrolling, no more than there is a reason to print upside down.

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actually, reverse scrolling is introduced in Mac's Lion OS. The reason they did that was mainly to transition people to get used to the scrolling of touch devices. this is also to turn the touch-pad on the mac like an "off-screen touch screen"

traditional wheel-scroll scrolls down to go down. on the otherhand, on a tablet or smartphones, you "flick up", "drag up" or "swipe up" the page to get to the bottom. the motion is synonymous with "scroll up" hence the reverse.

I heard this from Attack of the Show in G4TV when they reviewed an iMac with that type of scrolling. it's also explained in the Lion's new features under "Scroll direction preference"

not a bad idea for an OS, especially in the touch-screen era. but i don't know why they applied it in a website. just being different? being unique?

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It is horrible. While I accept @Hisham's answer that it is advertising rather than usability that is on display here, I would be very reluctant to buy from them to put on my site, because they seem to have some bad ideas, and I do not want to have them ruin my site. So I think it also fails as advertising.

There is a place for fixing elements so that they follow the scrollbar - sort of reverse scrolling at the speed of the scrollbar. But this is just wrong, and breaks the rule of doing things as people expect, unless there is a very good reason for doing otherwise.

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    Ooops sorry @Hisham Jan 17, 2012 at 18:57
  • No worries. :-)
    – Hisham
    Jan 17, 2012 at 21:48
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Sometimes you have to distinguish between usability and UX. From a usability perspective, it is a horrible solution. However, from a UX perspective, I'm totally getting it. It's a funny way to show how Conduit fits into the grander scheme of things. The 'wrong' scrollbar lists: '1998 first blogging community', '400 BC first pigeon post', etc. That tells you something about the culture of Conduit. It's pretty neat if you're able to put such a complex message into a simple homepage.

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It's confusing because the metaphor is inconsistent: when you're moving your mouse cursor around, your finger acts like a laser pen (move your finger up, the cursor goes up). When you want to scroll it's like your hand transmogrifies itself back into a biological limb and the trackpad becomes a piece of paper (move your finger up, the page goes down).

Reverse scrolling should be left for tablets. It should stay the hell away from non-touch displays.

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