I'm developing an app on the Android platform and the main UI component used is a ListView. Now, in my case, this ListView may contain a huge amount of items (depending on the user) so with that in mind, I implemented a "infinite scrolling" feature.

Then I was thinking, if users have over 100 items then scrolling though them might take a while. So I thought of dynamically switching the normal scrollbars out for the "fast scrollbars" after, lets say, 101 items are displayed. Take the following screen shot as an example (ignore the "Section Index" image)...

enter image description here

Consider the "Plain old rows" image, the first phase of the ListView. Then, as the user scrolls down and more and more data is populated into the ListView, the "Fast Scrolling" phase will be enabled.

My question is, is using 'fast scrolling' a sensible approach to take? My concern is related to the consistency of the user experience. Although this idea seems to be great if someone has tons and tons of data, I'm just a little worried users may be confused with the sudden switch.

  • Ok, pardon me for being dim, but what exactly is the difference between normal and fast scrolling? Don't see that much difference in the images and have no idea what the effects should be? May have encountered them on my phone, but not have realized that I encountered what is known as fast-scrolling? Dec 17, 2012 at 8:45
  • Normal scrollbars are what you'd expect, a long vertical scrollbar (which isn't shown above, but you can use your imagination). However the "fast scrolling" feature that Android supports in it's ListViews, shows a large "tab" (as seen in the picture above) so that when you move the tab up/down, the scroll speed is significantly faster.
    – Alex Fu
    Dec 17, 2012 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


I don't see a problem with it.

'Consistency' doesn't mean 'sameness'. Users can handle changing interfaces just fine so long as they understand the change and there's not many states for them to remember, and changes don't compound on top of one another.

After all, no-one complains when only some pages on a website have a scrollbar, or when a context-bound UI control gets greyed out in certain circumstances. In fact, enabling those components when they were inappropriate could actually cause more harm and confusion than otherwise.

That being said, I would make sure that users still understand that medium length lists are scrollable even when they don't have fast scroll. You could do this by providing a normal scrollbar on touch, or letting part of an element 'peek up' into the bottom of the viewport, to hint that there's more items underneath.

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