Tag Archives: User Experience

Yay or Nay: Infinite Scrolling for Shopping Sites

Infinite scrolling essentially allows a user to scroll endlessly (until there is no more data to fetch) through chunked data. It is usually implemented for comments, blog posts, product listings and other “chunk able data”.

Such an implementation requires the pre-fetching of content from a subsequent page and adding it to the user’s current page.

Seems like a yay for most things — i mean who wouldn’t like to click less next/more result buttons?

But the implementation at Etsy seemed to say otherwise. Read the article here, which discusses plausible reasons including

(1)  Some users, when returning to the search page after backing up from a product page, would find that they had lost their place in the infinite search stream (probably the biggest problem with infinite scroll implementations). Hence, it seems like without typical pagination, users typical navigational patterns when thrown askew.

[It then delves into an interesting issue of Etsy assuming a typical power-user behaviour (of open new tabs more each new product search) as the default behaviour.. but that’s another topic for discussion in the future.]

(2) Was it psychological? Perhaps users simply did not want to feel like they were facing with an overwhelming number of choices. There was perhaps an illusion of limited choice with pagination, where perhaps the additional action of clicking the next button acted as a psychological breakpoint in limiting a user’s possible choices. With infinite scrolling, this psychological breakpoint disappeared and users ended up being fatigued by the choices.

It’s so interesting that such psychological reasons can have such a great impact. But what the Etsy experience tells us is this – there is value is quick, dirty and modular testing — user interactions are becoming such a nuanced feel that any change or addition could have unexpected and undesirable consequences.

Don’t assume just because infinite scrolling happens to be the next big design trend that it is the next feature one should pursue.

Dashboards, Schdashboards

Read an article on the psychology of informational dashboards by Shilpi Choudhury  today. In it, she summarises the fundamental reasons why humans crave for information summarised on dashboards:

[1] Humans have a natural desire to be in control.

[2] Humans have a notoriously short short term memory.

[3] Humans desire to cut down clutter.

My thoughts

I guess being the pragmatist I am, the next question that naturally comes to my mind is then: How do we create appealing, effective dashboards?

Some things came up to mind:

Reducing cognitive clutter

Shilpi cites an article by Jakob Nielsen and mentions that we typically can only remember up to 7 distinct chunks of information in our short term memory, and that this information fades in about 20 seconds. What this suggests to me is that we can’t exactly perform cognitive processes involving more than 7 distinct pieces of information — so excel sheets can actually hurt more than help.

Here’s where presenting data visually becomes important – graphs, info-graphics and the likes all serve to reduce the cognitive load such that we can absorb, understand and memorise (short term) more data in order to perform more complex analysis and trending, in effect allowing us to see the forest for the trees easily.

[Likewise in communications, people tire when seeing too many pieces of information/data and would much rather welcome an image]

Of course, not all info-graphics were created equally. The well crafted info-graphic utilises natural psychologically distinct visual attributes like colour, size, density, shape (the gestalt principles!) in order to compress information and hence convey more information to the viewer at a quick glance.

Timely Reminders, Proper Organisation

A second point that would make dashboards useful would be the way it can coordinate and inform users when and where intervention is needed. There should be flexibility for intervention rules to be set in order for the dashboard to prove valuable to the user, whose requirements might change across time.

Finally, a proper dashboard calls for proper organisation of data – and this honestly, shouldn’t be done at the level of the dashboard, but rather at the data architecture level. Ultimately a dashboard is meant for the display and manipulation of data that has been captured and organised within a system – if the system has a crappy data architecture, then the dashboard is probably not going to be any bit helpful.

Introduction

About

This blog is an experiment of mine. I intend to use it to record my lessons learnt from the vast and vastly interesting field of user experience. Hopefully with careful meta-tagging, it becomes a useful repository of User Experience (UX) and Design Thinking (DT) for future reference.

Why UX and DT?

I suspect I would develop this section much more as my thoughts get clearer, but i think proficiency in UX and the application of DT both lead to more well-designed systems with the end-user in mind. UX deals with more general concepts based on psychology whilst DT attempts to dive into specific user desires.

End State

 Eventually i hope this blog gains a life of its own and becomes a genuine platform for engaging conversation about UX/DT and also a true, well-critique repository for everything UX and DT related.

Cheers.