Why does Google still use paging instead of progressive loading?

  • As a designer I believe "Page system" is less efficient than progressive loading inside a single page. However it is still widely used on many websites including Google’s search results.

    Google Search pagination, offering links from "1" to "10"

    Maybe there is an important advantage of the pagination system that I am missing.

    Can you help me to figure out why it is still commonly used?

    In what way do you believe progressive load is more efficient? Are we talking about 'user finding what they want' efficient, or computational efficiency? In my (anecdotal) experience, I find infinite scrolling pages to be worse on both counts.

    Google does use infinite scroll when searching for images, though.

    I personally find progressive loading, for anything other than social media, extremely annoying and "un-user friendly". If you are searching for something specific and find it on a page, then you know where it is and can deep link to it. If you leave the results and go back, you know where to go to quickly get to where you left off. Not to mention there is less memory required to render the redundant results in progressive loading.

    I prefer pagination for most things. But if you want to see search with progressive loading, fire up duckduckgo.com and you can see how it compares.

    Because everybody except web designers caught up in latest trends (i.e. especially **users**) knows that progressive loading is utterly awful ux. Browser eventually slows down to a crawl, and it's usually impossible to find the same thing more than once; even if you can, it can take hours, and "search in page" doesn't work until you manually scroll far enough to reach the desired content.

    @TimBJames, you can't deep link to Google results, simply because everybody gets different results on the same query.

    Progressive loading has it's places. While others would love it every moment. But few would enjoy it if a book were a long continual scroll of paper (hopefully)! There's a reason even PDFs have pages, and it's not just its printability

    I find progressive loading annoying on social media, too, because then I forget to stop and take a break. Of course that's what they're trying to do.

    Btw "as a designer" you're badly wrong and I'd go so far as to say *unqualified for your job*. Pushing ux that users almost universally consider *awful* onto them because you have a contrary-to-fact and contrary-to-users "belief" that your way is "more efficient" is... uhg.

    As always, there's a relevant XKCD comic. https://xkcd.com/1309/ "Maybe we should give up on the whole idea of a "back" button. "Show me that thing I was looking at a moment ago" might just be too complicated an idea for the modern web."

    Because infinite scrolling is annoying and bad, especially on phones, I'd be scrolling through some stuff and then I accept a phone call or check the map or something and when I come back the page has reset itself and I have scroll through ALLL items again for ten minutes just to get to where I was, so annoying. It's not a problem with pages though.

    @user51343, well not quite *infinite scroll* on the images page, something of a hybrid between that and pagination.

    As a user, I believe designers who think a neverending, constantly changing page that can never be reproduced twice in a row and can never be saved, printed, or even viewed in its entirety is beneficial should be gently punched in the nose.

    Almost every time you find result you need on first 10 result, So if there is auto load and you find your result on 9th record, Do you really wish that google load unwanted results ??

    Many of these fancy web-design fads of the last years may be neat to look at the first few times, be it caroussels, infinite scroll, lazy loading or even (shriek) horizontal layouts, but then they suck from a user's point of view. E.g., with lazy loading one gets different results for incremental search, depending on how much has been scrolled over; crazyness. Also, many of those magick apparatuses destroy conversion rates, something that seems to not exist for a perceived 95%+ majority of webdesigners. Bubble-Bursting read/blog: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/ugly-website-design/ .

    Also: I really recommend to strike "why don't they **use** X, **yet**", "why do they **still use** X" and all variants thereof (regex: `(still|allready)?.*(use|using).*(yet)?`) from your list of idioms. I always get frightened when hearing that, because it's often enough a red flag indicating blind faith in something. "Yo brother, work for us, we're already using .net, you know" was something I heard quite often 10 years ago. It sounded like they seriously believed that .net was the One True Thing to use. Know what I mean? My newest favourite acronym fits nicely: A.S.S., Always Stay Skeptical.

    Here is my point of view : When an user reaches the end of the first page we can assume he haven't find what he is looking for. Then, why don't we help him by loading automatically more results or inviting him to precise its search ? It seems much more user friendly to me than showing 10 tiny links to jump to another page. And i am not talking about *infinite scrolling*, simply to auto-load next results

    @R.. The worse part about infinite scrolling on Facebook is trying to find something, because as you scroll, Facebook will _remove/unload_ the top of the page! So CTRL-F never works! You can't just hold `END` for a while and search, because you probably skipped the chunk it was in.

    @R..: Progressive loading might suck on Facebook, but it works flawlessly for me on YouTube. IMO the general bloat is the problem, not the scrolling model.

    @Mehrdad: Tell me how it works when you click on something you want to see, navigate a few more links forward, then want to get back to *where you were before* using the back button.

    @R..: It does that just fine as long as I'm on YouTube. If I click a link to somewhere outside then it doesn't work, but I never need to do that (and normally I open an external link in a new tab anyway).

    why you think "progressive loading" is better than paging? with progressive loading, how to scroll to last item?

    Infinite scrolling requires JavaScript, manual pagination still works without it.

  • Infinite scroll has its uses, but a search result page is not one of them. Infinite scroll relies on discovery and exploration. This works well for when you're not looking for anything in particular; when you're sifting through a massive amount of data until you find something that hooks your interest. This format lends itself extremely well for social media with newsfeeds, or inspiration platforms like Pinterest.

    You may measure the benefits of infinite scrolling with the example of a Facebook news feed. By unspoken agreement, users are aware that they won’t get to see everything on the feed, because the content is updated too frequently. With infinite scrolling, Facebook is doing it’s best to expose as much information as possible to the users and they are scanning and consuming this flow of information.

    Search results are all about finding what you need.

    Pagination is good when the user is searching for something in particular within the list of results, not just scanning and consuming the flow of information.

    Google wants to show you relevant data. Pagination tells you where the search results are located (page) and in which order they match your criteria. This helps to estimate how much time it’ll take to find what you're actually looking for and helps you find results back.

    Google has experimented in the past with loading times. Turns out, even with a slightly longer delay in loading, people are more likely to abandon the search. Infinite scroll is rather heavy on performance, so this would multiply this abandoning rate.

    More here: https://uxplanet.org/ux-infinite-scrolling-vs-pagination-1030d29376f1

    Also for search in general pagination has the benefit you can relate to your last search or someone else's search - i.e. you can say "the 2nd result on page 3" while it's quite hard to find the 42th result in a progressive loading setup - assuming 20 results per page.

    @Darkwing Unless you're using the same Google localization, the results will wildly vary.

    @JohnHamilton Well, it's likely I would talk with someone in the same region or redo the same search also in the same localization. However, you are right that the argument isn't *that* strong for Google (but still relevant enough I'd say), I find reconsidering the same search and restarting on the page I stopped last time even more helpful in a lot of other cases - like looking through recommended movies, hotel rooms, cars on sale ordered by price/closeness etc. pp.

    @Darkwing Oh, I'm not suggesting it's not useful but just not a really good means of presenting others with search results you have procured. I always use the international version of Google and I've had this problem with almost everyone I know. Though, as you have suggested, it's useful for a lot of other things.

    @JohnHamilton Are you using touch devices or desktops/mouse driven devices? I would argue that it's partially a device issue, with mobile pagination is far more cumbersome to control. I do hate progressive tough - even on mobile - for it usually is so power-hungry at some point it crashes the browser and it's hard to re-engage then (on the other hand, good time to stop slacking off).

    @JohnHamilton Google search result is _personalized_. If we both search for the word X then we may well get **completely different** results, regardless our geographic area (assuming we both have a Google account...)

    I've upvoted this because it's true. Most searches are from people looking for something specific, and they expect it to show up at the top. If it doesn't, they'll try different search criteria rather than browsing further through the results. Anyone that knows SEO will tell you that the number of hits you get is directly related to how high up you are on the first page. In the top five, then you stand a chance of a click. If you're much further down than that, you may as well forget it. People don't even scan to the bottom of the first page most of the time, much less move onto the next page.

    Most of these arguments would work if the question was "whats the point in having pagination on google results at all"

    "[infinite scrolling] works well [...] when you're sifting through a massive amount of data until you find something that hooks your interest." I dispute that, since it breaks search within page.

    Good explanation. I always find myself searching through multiple pages and thinking to myself "okay, XYZ is on page 3..". So that's another benefit in terms of searching. It's an indicator to help you organize in your mind on-the-go

    I don't think this is quite right. Pagination and infinite scrolling are just different interfaces to the same result set. So there's no reason why the paradigm of 'search results' shouldn't be interfaced through an infinitely scrolling list. There are of course differences in how these two interfaces can be utilized, for instance google can allow on a paginated interface. And so there is definitely a more appropriate interface to use depending on your scenario. But flat-out saying that infinitely scrolling lists are not appropriate for search results is ill-conceived.

    Another important point is that Google (like any other search engine out there) strives to give the most relevant content in the first few results. Ideally, just the first two or three links it gives should fulfill the query. Having the user need to even see there are other pages, let alone scrolling down potentially ad libitum, is a little failure from Google's perspective. The user should not have the impression there is a lot more relevant content: he should be fully satisfied by what he finds on the top of the page.

    @Shadetheartist If all of your search results were in one single vertical column, that would also be the same results just in a different format. And it would be incredibly annoying. Presentation matters incredibly much.

    @Darkwing: "I would argue that it's partially a device issue, with mobile pagination is far more cumbersome to control." - with a mouse, progressively loading pages are almost unusable IMO. Everytime more content gets loaded, the total page length changes, and therefore also the position of the thumb on the scrollbar. The next moment I move the cursor by a pixel (while I'm still holding the mouse button pressed, given that I was dragging the thumb), I am suddenly above the non-thumb part of the scrollbar and the content gets shifted to a totally other place because the scrollbar now thinks ...

    ... I want to fast-forward to another position. (I know I could use the mousewheel or click the up/down buttons on the scrollbar, but neither gives me as accurate a control about how fast to continuously move content along in accordance with my reading speed.)

    @DavidRicherby The use-case made for infinite scrolling is when you don't know yet what you are looking for, so you couldn't type a search anyway. That's why it fits news feeds and the like, where information is offered and you just browse through it without a clear cut goal. (I'm still disliking performance issues and site size changes etc, but I see the benefit).

    @Darkwing: I cannot imagine any situation where I might be scrolling to see what's there, but never want to search for something again that I read above - then, or after a (possibly unintentional) page reload.

    "Infinite scroll has its uses, but a search result page is not one of them. Infinite scroll relies on discovery and exploration." First two sentences seem to contradict each other. Isn't search a synonym for discovery and exploration? It may even be a prime example of discovery and exploration with infinite scrolling (see duckduckgo for example).

    @Trilarion Search results for information are quite specific; you want the most relevant information matching your specific criteria. Often you'll want to make a mental note of where you found the information since you're gathering multiple sources. When it comes to images, it's more up to your own interpretation whether the results match your criteria. You'll then be looking for something until it hooks your interest. Then infinite scroll has a better chance to give you what you're looking for as you can keep going until you have a hit. Hence Google using infinite scroll for their Images.

    I can "find what I need" using infinite scroll and claiming a search result page isn't a valid case for infinite scroll is rhetoric at this point, since you only begin to validate the claim halfway through this answer. Remove everything above the paragraph "Google wants" and the answer will be more succinct.

    @JohnHamilton not just localization, but previous searches and whatnot will effect what comes up first, right? They at least do that for ads.

    @Darkwing Sure, _the first time_ I visit the page, I might not know what I want. But when I come back to it an hour later because I want to show you something really cool that I found? _Then_ I want to search. That's the problem with designing a UI based on the assumption that there's only one way that users want to interact with the page: there's always another way.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM