The Lazy Designer

Design Debate – Paging versus Scrolling

Read a recent Times article where it was discussing whether ‘page-turning’ is still relevant on electronic devices. Some quoted in the article suggested that page turning was less preferable than scrolling.

They would be wrong.

The page turning is essential for me to enjoy reading on a digital device. I wrote last year about my frustration with reading longer stories on the web because of how awkward scrolling is.

To expand that point I really feel that page turning has many advantages. The most obvious is the inherent ‘memory’ that paging creates — it is easy for a reader to remember where they were, if interrupted, especially in an office environment with many distractions. We are raised reading and remembering that when we reach the end of a page we turn the page and start on the next. When scrolling there isn’t an as-easy rule of thumb to use… do I wait until I reach the bottom to scroll more text in and then start reading from the top? Or once I reach the bottom do I continue to scroll a little more at a time? I know I often have to start reading from the top again when interrupted because I forget where I was and woe is me if the browser crashes and I have to hunt my way through the text to see where I made it to.

Now a lot of this might be that I spent my early years reading — computers not quite hitting mainstream yet — and my brain got formed a particular way but I really find the paging concept easier to work with. Scrolling works for short blogs and articles, and in games for things like item descriptions… but whenever I have to read something long that I might not finish at one sitting — or might be interrupted periodically while reading — I much prefer to have my progress marked via pages.

What about you?

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.