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We fight everyday against (I don't know how the terme is coined) "inner content scroll" / "independent scroll" (I mean "overflow:scroll;") to prevent our users from getting this behaviors on their desktop devices.

But for tablet devices, it seems a lot of application use it, and among them, the App Store...

iPad App Store Home Screenshot

So, is it a good practice to use "inner content scroll" on tablets? Is there documentation / user research ? Do you have feedbacks ?

  • The answer can differ for web and native applications. You mentioned overflow: scroll as the technique behind it; do you want to focus on web applications or are you interested in both? – jazZRo Sep 15 '15 at 11:24
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    The term you are looking for is horizontal scrolling. Search for that and you will find plenty of UX resources. – Larivact Sep 15 '15 at 11:42
  • So you're talking about carousels on the web as apposed to mobile applications? – Majo0od Sep 15 '15 at 12:42
  • You mean only horizontal scrolls? I've seen vertical independent scrolling called "inception scrolling." – Ken Mohnkern Sep 15 '15 at 13:02
  • @jazZRo interested both in web and native applications (my current subject is a web-app, though) – Charles G. Sep 15 '15 at 13:14
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My only experience comes from what i have learned at school and experienced myself. So here comes my humble opinion on the topic.

First of all there are different types but i don't know if there are better names than these:

  • inception scrolling:

    • if the page can scroll vertical, and a certain field on the page can also scroll vertical

    OR

    • if the page can scroll horizontal, and a certain field on the page can also scroll horizontal

    OR (please don't do this ever)

    • if the page can scroll horizontal and vertical and a certain field on the page can also scroll horizontal and vertical
  • independent scrolling:

    • if the page can scroll vertical, and a certain field on the page can scroll horizontal

    OR (a bit odd but might be useful in certain cases I suppose)

    • if the page can scroll horizontal, and a certain field on the page can scroll vertical

Now here are some things you realy need to think about before implementing inception scrolling:

  • Is there no other way? (read all button, tabs, accordeon, independent scrolling,...)
  • Shure about previous one?
  • Is it only for touch devices?

If it 3 times yes then you might do it, but make shure it is clear to your user where to toch to scroll the whole page, and where to scroll te certain section, this can be done by depth, or a hinting arow. Also make shure the user can still easily scroll through the whole page without havving to target a very small spot.

If the case is that it might be seen on a desktop, i would give it an absolute no, because a user expection is that the page will scroll, not only a part of the page, there are more suitable controls wich require a click to show more content wich is more convenient for a user.

And horizontal scrolling on a desktop? please don't if there is no reason. First of all, not al touchpad's and mice are capable of horizontal scrolling (so the user would need a bottom scroll bar (can i get a vomitting emoticon here?)). Second, if you do it, then make sure it fit's in the concept of your project but that would require cusom user testing.


Now about independent scrolling its a whole other story for touch devices. Not on desktops because it would anyhow involve horizontal scrolling, en like i mentioned above it's no best practice

It is easy to use and looks nice when you make it clear. (look at examples like the apple store on how they do that) Why it works on touch devices, because one has to explicitly touch the section and scroll it in the right direction. (up/down for the page and right/left fore the section) So anyhow the user decides where to scroll which way. Only make shure that it is clear where you can scroll horizontal.

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OP, are you talking about having:

  • horizontal scrolling list of items, and perhaps more than one of those

and

  • the whole thing has a vertical scroll (so there may be many, perhaps 10 or so, of the horizontal scrolls)

If so, TBC you are asking about this on tablets...

If that is precisely what you are asking, the answer can only be: yes, that is absolutely commonplace.

It happens all the time on tablets, and it's difficult to see any problem with it. Exactly as you say, you need look no further than the app store for a typical example (indeed google play is the same right? and its the same on phones as tablets). I don't think we've ever done an app that does not include this feature! Even in arcade games when you go to something like, say, "choose your sound effect!" it will be a "set of categories" and you (of course!) do it exactly like that. (I can hardly even think of how else it could be done .. popups? really popups dont work on glass.)

I guess, maybe you are coming from a web experience, and (I wouldn't know!) this is something one avoids on the web?

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Horizontal scroll is fine on two conditions

  1. It is clearly visible that list can be horizontally scrolled. Look how all the app icons and banners are cut off from the right to indicate that content continues there

  2. Scrolling horizontally is not harder than scrolling vertically. There is no horizontal scroll wheel on most mice, but for tapping and dragging with your finger, horizontal is just as good as vertical.

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