We know horizontal scrolling on websites is a mistake
However, there’s a growing trend towards huge headers, with key content ‘below the fold’. So you can only view it by vertical scrolling.
This seems to fly in the face of 2,000 years of common sense.
Scroll wheels on mice and touch screen tablets mean you no longer need to grab the scrollbar. Taken to it’s extreme, there are single page websites, requiring constant scrolling.
A lesson from history
Nicholas Carr’s excellent book, ‘The Shallows’ analyses how various communication tools effect the way we read. In it he documents why books superseded ‘scrolls’.
Besides the cost saving benefits of the book (you can print on both sides of the page) Nicholas Carr points out,
“Books were easy to navigate too. Finding a particular passage, an awkward task with a long roll of text, became a simple matter of flipping back and forth to the next page.”
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, p60.
Better still, hyperlinking to multiple pages, with the peripheral information remaining static, means you focus on what’s changed. It’s like the original Scooby-Do animations, where the non-speaking characters froze, and you focus on who is speaking (although that was probably done for cost-saving reasons!).
Navigating with Anchor Points
You can set up ‘anchor points’ to specific lines within a page. So when you click the link, the page moves to that point in the text.
It’s about as disorientating as watching those weather reports with dynamic maps throwing you around the British Isles. Try this.
I like to fight alongside those who challenge convention in order to innovate. However, great design isn’t only about ideas. It has to be logical, otherwize it’s just art.
Don’t you want your best content to always be visible, by default ?
Above all else, it has to pass the Steve Krug’s usability principle on web design: ‘Don’t Make Me Think’.