Wouldn't it make much more sense to smooth this out? I really have trouble keeping focus while reading and scrolling a bit at the same time, and it really feels outdated.

Despite mousewheels are often in steps, they could at least smooth it out.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Graham Herrli, Charles Wesley, Evil Closet Monkey, Joshua Barron, greenforest Aug 5 '14 at 22:18

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I first thought it may be a it's easier to implement thing, but the trackpad behaviour on Chrome for Mac is smooth but mouse scroll is by incremental steps. Interesting. – nightning Jul 24 '14 at 19:30
  • interestingly, Chrome used to provide you the option to enable smooth scrolling, now that option has been removed. – Chairman Meow Jul 24 '14 at 19:37
  • From a cognitive point of view, the scrolling performed in steps respects the way our eyes and brain work.

    As you may know, our retina has a central, small hi-res portion called fovea that we use to see details, and a blurred peripheral area that is highly sensible to movements.

    The eyes constantly perform rapid saccades to gain details from many points and our brain collects and maps them out to form and enrich one coherent mental image ready to be processed.

    Therefore a smooth scroll would make it difficult for the fovea to fix on the details of the text that we need and would distract us with the movement of the entire page - our evolution lead us to be attracted by movements to survive.

    Scrolling in steps -by providing enough details of the previous content to be visible-, allows our brain to create a mental image as we would normally do in the physical world.

  • From a task performance point of view, scrolling in steps is faster because the user doesn't have to wait for the transition to end before allowing the next saccade - try to read something that is moving and you'll see how annoying it is.

  • From a computational point of view instead, a smooth scrolling behaviour requires more power and on older machines it may not be as smooth as intended.

    It also contributes to drain the battery on laptops without adding any tangible benefit.

  • This is a terrible answer. The OP specifically said there is tangible benefit. The "cognitive point of view" is almost completely irrelevant if the UX is worse. From a task performance point of view, the OP specifically said it makes his tasks harder in the current implementation. From a computational point of view the answer is "because smoothing it may only smooth it a little instead of a lot." Granted the question isn't super great for the exchange format, but this answer approaches a practical question from a theoretical position that denies the practical assertions! – Sir Robert Aug 7 '14 at 20:21
  • Hi Robert, I take your point and I acknowledge that the current implementation makes the experience worse for the OP, but I was trying to figure out possible reasons (theory) in order to reply to the original question that is "why is scrolling in discrete steps?". If you don't like the answer you're more than welcome to contribute to the discussion, even though it seems that you didn't like the question either :D – Luca De Angelis Aug 8 '14 at 13:42

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