Infinite Scrolling, Pagination, & Everything Else: It’s About Control

“Scrolling is a continuation while clicking is a decision”

Joshua Porter

In Nick Babich’s excellent Medium post on the UX distinctions between infinite scrolling and pagination, the concept of giving users a “sense of control” serves as a positive in the camp of paginated content. I would argue that this concept transcends pagination and should be a core principle of all good design (including in the implementation of infinite scrolling).

To me, “control” means feeling capable of directing and navigating a product and feeling confident in that capability. All users of all products want control; they want to feel like every affordance is within reach and that they are the ones who dictate whether a given affordance is realized.

Bad design makes users feel like they don’t have control over a product. Capabilities are unclear, steps by which capabilities can be realized are unclear, errors obscure intended functionality, and frustration emerges from the perception that something or someone else has more control over the product than the user does.

Make users feel like they’re in control, even if they actually aren’t!

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