Infinite scroll is a web design technique that loads new content as the user scrolls down the page. It is often used by social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook as it allows you to continuously read users updates. Invented by Aza Raskin as early as 2006, by 2018 it was viewed as one of the reasons that make social media more addictive, with the inventor advocating against its use.

The growth in popularity of Infinite Scroll probably echos the increased use of mobile devices. Alternatives to Infinite Scroll such as pagination and “load more” buttons are, in my opinion, more cumbersome on a mobile device. How users interact with the mobile web varies, but whether you’re spending hours scrolling through content, or spending 5 minutes scan reading the news, content is rarely viewed twice. I expect most content on the mobile web is designed to be disposable.

When using my laptop, I’m far more likely to bookmark a link or navigate back through my browsing history to find something I’ve read previously. Infinite scroll on my laptop doesn’t offer the usability gain that my thumb benefits from on the mobile.

It could be my age, but the mental map of my browsing history is orientated around pages. If I read something of interest, I’ll keep the page and open a new tab. I don’t think that pages that employ infinite scroll work well with creating collections of tabs. With an infinite scrolling page, the content is never in the same place twice - and it is very difficult to find it again in the future.