Users Hate Your Fancy Horizontal Scrolling on the Web

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”:

  1. The web’s horizontal scrollbar requires constant attention and greater physical effort than dragging. The scroll bar target is difficult to manipulate.
  2. Users often don’t realize there is content hidden horizontally, thus never find it.
  3. 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:

  1. Don’t put your site’s primary navigation on a horizontal scroll bar.
  2. Make it clear to users how much content is left.
  3. Create REALLY obvious cues for horizontal scrolling–such as content that is clearly cut off and extending offscreen.




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