When an element contains overflowing content, there is nothing that tells the user they can scroll to see more. They have to know to try the 2 finger swipe to see if anything moves.


Shouldn't there be something to tell the user that there's more to see? I don't feel making them try to swipe to see what happens is acceptable. Can someone make an argument for this behavior?

  • Don't they just have to use the one finger swipe to scroll as normal? And technically this is a convention, though I still think it's an important question to ask.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 20:34
  • @Rarity: it was a two-finger swipe until iOS 5 (so not switched to one-finger until very recently).
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 23:03
  • @KitGrose ohh...sounds annoying as heck. My first device was iOS5 so I guess I'm spoiled. My touchpad does the two finger thing and I hate it...it's not as sensitive as a good touchscreen however.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 23:27

3 Answers 3


I find that in many applications where I scan scroll on my iPhone, there is a subtle but effective way to telling me that visible: the last line in the scrollable area is only half visible. That quite effectively communicates that there is more to see, and once you start scrolling, you'll notice that there is an indication where you are in the list.

I know that this does not apply for all scrollable contents. For instance, on a webpage, you cannot control if a line on the bottom will end up in the right position to be only half-visible. However, I get the distinct impression (just playing around with my phone to see what happens now) that here another technique is used: the scrollbars that are visible during scrolling, are also briefly visible when the content is first rendered in the scrollable area. I guess that also serves as a reminder that the content is scrollable. At least Safari uses this technique.


There is, IMO, nothing about the way that iOS handles scrollable content that is ideal or could be argued to be better than the traditional desktop experience of an always-visible scrollbar.

Importantly, though, this implementation is a very good trade-off for small-sized screens, since persistent scrollbars would take up a very large proportion of the total screen space, especially while the website was completely zoomed out (as it is when desktop websites are first loaded on an iOS device.


I have found that over the last few years, websites containing "frame" like appearance and feel have begun to die off.

In fact when developing sites I try never to have to use overflow hidden, unless expressly needed for a particular set of functionality; like a scroller/carousel.

For this example I would have used a responsive design that simply makes the containers fit the height and width that best fits the content and the device resolution.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.