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8:3 Use Scrolling Pages for Reading Comprehension

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 2 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Scrolling and Paging


Guideline:

Use longer, scrolling pages when users are reading for comprehension.


Comments:

Make the trade-off between paging and scrolling by taking into consideration that retrieving new linked pages introduces a delay that can interrupt users' thought processes. Scrolling allows readers to advance in the text without losing the context of the message as may occur when they are required to follow links.

However, with pages that have fast loading times, there is no reliable difference between scrolling and paging when people are reading for comprehension. For example, one study showed that paging participants construct better mental representations of the text as a whole, and are better at remembering the main ideas and later locating relevant information on a page. In one study, paging was preferred by inexperienced users.


Sources:

  • Byrne, M.D., Anderson, J.R., Douglass, S., & Matessa, M. (1999). Eye tracking the visual search of click-down menus. Proceedings of CHI’99, 402-409.
  • Campbell, C.S. & Maglio, P.P. (1999). Facilitating navigation in information spaces: Road signs on the World Wide Web. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 50, 309-327.
  • Piolat, A., Roussey, J.Y., & Thunin, O. (1998). Effects of screen presentation on text reading and revising. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 47, 565-589.
  • Schwarz, E., Beldie, I.P., & Pastoor, S. (1983). A comparison of paging and scrolling for changing screen contents by inexperienced users. Human Factors, 24, 279-282.
  • Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., & DeAngelo, T. (1997). Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.
  • Spyridakis, J.H. (2000). Guidelines for authoring comprehensible web pages and evaluating their success. Technical Communication, 47(3), 359-382.