Thank heavens for Jacob Nielsen for a variety of reasons!—one including the free access he gives newsletter subscribers to his research.
In the latest newsletter (link here), Nielsen’s associate Katie Sherwin gives a rundown on research about horizontal scrolling on websites, and it’s not good….
Quick take: More sites are utilizing horizontal scrolling, yet users remain reluctant to scroll horizontally. This is a quick summary of just part of the newsletter’s content.
Sherwin identifies 3 major risks in employing horizontal scrolling or “swiping”:
- The web’s horizontal scrollbar requires constant attention and greater physical effort than dragging. The scroll bar target is difficult to manipulate.
- Users often don’t realize there is content hidden horizontally, thus never find it.
- Even what you consider obvious physical cues for horizontal scrolling offer little information scent to actual users.
If you just can’t help yourself, here are 3 recommendations for forcing users to use the horizontal scrolling method Sherwin just told us they hate:
- Don’t put your site’s primary navigation on a horizontal scroll bar.
- Make it clear to users how much content is left.
- Create REALLY obvious cues for horizontal scrolling–such as content that is clearly cut off and extending offscreen.