Internal scrolling usability

3 Nov 2003 - 5:43am
10 years ago
10 replies
1588 reads
Narey, Kevin
2004

I apologise now if this is too fine grained for this forum.

As a web ui developer I often come across the issue of displaying large
amounts of data on one page. Recent feedback suggested that some of our
users don't really mind internal scrolling as it keeps the surrounding
environment 'stable' whilst scrolling through large amounts of data (i.e. a
frameset). However, Nielsen et al are not proponents of this method as it is
non-standard.
Obviously, there is the 'treating it on a case by case basis' scenario here,
but for all those who design displays with large amounts of data, what
usable methods do you employ?

Regards

Kevin Narey
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Development Practice
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Comments

3 Nov 2003 - 7:32am
CD Evans
2004

Hi Kevin,

I'd recommend a doing up a few prototypes and trying them out with
your potential visitors.

In terms of display techniques, Jenifer Tidwell has some wonderful
libraries online for interaction patterns.

http://time-tripper.com/uipatterns/index.php

Try the entries under Organizing The Page to find layout patterns
relevant to your solution.

Kindly
Clifton Evans

At 10:43 am +0000 3/11/03, Narey, Kevin wrote:
>I apologise now if this is too fine grained for this forum.
>
>As a web ui developer I often come across the issue of displaying large
>amounts of data on one page. Recent feedback suggested that some of our
>users don't really mind internal scrolling as it keeps the surrounding
>environment 'stable' whilst scrolling through large amounts of data (i.e. a
>frameset). However, Nielsen et al are not proponents of this method as it is
>non-standard.
>Obviously, there is the 'treating it on a case by case basis' scenario here,
>but for all those who design displays with large amounts of data, what
>usable methods do you employ?
>
>Regards
>
>Kevin Narey
>---------------------------------------------------
>gedas united kingdom limited (vw group)
>Development Practice
>----------------------------------------------------
>
>
>
>
>**********************************************************************
>gedas united kingdom limited
>Registered in England no. 1371338
>
>This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential
>and it may be privileged.
>
>It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
>whom it is addressed.
>
>If you have received this in error, please contact the sender
>and delete the material immediately.
>**********************************************************************
>_______________________________________________
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3 Nov 2003 - 8:44am
John O'Donovan
2004

You always have to bear in mind whether people are talking about the
usability or the fact that the technology does not work too well which means
it's a bad idea.

For some general ideas (technology aside) consider some of the patterns
here:

http://www.welie.com/patterns/index.html

An example may be useful here. Consider frames. Years ago when frames first
came out, if they had been fully supported by browsers that made them fully
accessible, bookmarkable, gave consistent navigation, etc.. you would have
had less moaning about using frames because they don't work properly and
more discussion on whether they were actually a good idea. In this case, for
example, the discussion moves from this:

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html
to
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990502.html ("Frames are no longer the
disaster they were...")

So now we have tacit acceptance that they are not evil anymore - just need
to consider when best to use them...for example:

http://www.gooddocuments.com/techniques/whenframes_m.htm

If you have to consider whether content fits better inside a scrolling area
it may depend on the type of content and certainly depends on your audience.
An example to consider is sites where you have longish stories in a thin
column like this:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/parenting/11/02/grown.up.ap/index.html

Would this be easier to use if all your main navigation and other elements
did not scroll off the page? Whether this applies to you depends on the type
of content you are dealing with, so would need some more info on this.

In another context, if your menu bar in Word scrolled off the page and you
had to go back to the top of the document every time you wanted to access
it, then you would not consider this very usable.

Another option is better pagination for lots of data (split content over
multiple pages), but this is not always possible.

So it depends on your audience and the type of content as to whether it is
worth doing this way, but never believe anyone who says "NEVER" :)

Some general tips on presentation of information on the web are worth
considering and may affect your choices:

http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/writing.html
remember Nielson says "Scrolling bad..." :)

your overall choice may depend on what choices you make technologically in
how to deliver this functionality and whether it is suitable for the
audience and platform you are working with. For example, on an Intranet you
may do something very different to what you may do for a general internet
audience.

Cheers,

jod

----- Original Message -----
From: "Narey, Kevin" <Kevin.Narey at Gedas.co.uk>
To: <discuss at interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Monday, November 03, 2003 10:43 AM
Subject: [ID Discuss] Internal scrolling usability

> I apologise now if this is too fine grained for this forum.
>
> However, Nielsen et al are not proponents of this method as it is
> non-standard.

3 Nov 2003 - 7:46am
Bargholz Hans
2003

Kevin, I also disagree with Jakob Nielsen on the scrolling issue. If he is
reading this thread I suggest to try www.nytimes where one has to click
through each page of an article. I would also prefer to scroll down the
Google list. Hans.

-----Original Message-----
From: CD Evans [mailto:clifton at infostyling.com]
Sent: 03 November 2003 14:33
To: Narey, Kevin; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Internal scrolling usability

Hi Kevin,

I'd recommend a doing up a few prototypes and trying them out with
your potential visitors.

In terms of display techniques, Jenifer Tidwell has some wonderful
libraries online for interaction patterns.

http://time-tripper.com/uipatterns/index.php

Try the entries under Organizing The Page to find layout patterns
relevant to your solution.

Kindly
Clifton Evans

At 10:43 am +0000 3/11/03, Narey, Kevin wrote:
>I apologise now if this is too fine grained for this forum.
>
>As a web ui developer I often come across the issue of displaying large
>amounts of data on one page. Recent feedback suggested that some of our
>users don't really mind internal scrolling as it keeps the surrounding
>environment 'stable' whilst scrolling through large amounts of data (i.e. a
>frameset). However, Nielsen et al are not proponents of this method as it
is
>non-standard.
>Obviously, there is the 'treating it on a case by case basis' scenario
here,
>but for all those who design displays with large amounts of data, what
>usable methods do you employ?
>
>Regards
>
>Kevin Narey
>---------------------------------------------------
>gedas united kingdom limited (vw group)
>Development Practice
>----------------------------------------------------
>
>
>
>
>**********************************************************************
>gedas united kingdom limited
>Registered in England no. 1371338
>
>This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential
>and it may be privileged.
>
>It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
>whom it is addressed.
>
>If you have received this in error, please contact the sender
>and delete the material immediately.
>**********************************************************************
>_______________________________________________
>Interaction Design Discussion List
>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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>to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
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3 Nov 2003 - 8:59am
Dave Malouf
2005

I don't think the question of internal scrolling is that simple, especially
in terms of lists.
I do think you have to separate the question about lists from the question
about articles.

Lists:
There is a big technical drawback to having unbounded lists. Just look at
the Windows OS where folder lists are unbound. Try opening a directory w/
1000's of files in it and that directory is over the network? The delay is
staggering.

This problem is even more confounded on a web-based system where an app
server and a database (let alone the middleware app itself) all take a
tremendous strain when creating too many records. The delay and the server
load are the main reasons for NOT having scrolling. yes, we would prefer to
just have a long sortable and scrollable list, but I think if it mean
waiting 2min. and having the system crash on the other side (I use hte word
crash very loosely), then we probably would be more upset.

Until we have infinite bandwidth and inifinite CPU speed we will just have
to deal w/ some usability constraints in our designs. Mitigate.

-- dave

_____

From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Bargholz Hans
Sent: Monday, November 03, 2003 7:46 AM
To: 'CD Evans'; Narey, Kevin; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Internal scrolling usability

Kevin, I also disagree with Jakob Nielsen on the scrolling issue. If he is
reading this thread I suggest to try www.nytimes where one has to click
through each page of an article. I would also prefer to scroll down the
Google list. Hans.

-----Original Message-----
From: CD Evans [mailto:clifton at infostyling.com]
Sent: 03 November 2003 14:33
To: Narey, Kevin; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Internal scrolling usability

Hi Kevin,

I'd recommend a doing up a few prototypes and trying them out with
your potential visitors.

In terms of display techniques, Jenifer Tidwell has some wonderful
libraries online for interaction patterns.

http://time-tripper.com/uipatterns/index.php

Try the entries under Organizing The Page to find layout patterns
relevant to your solution.

Kindly
Clifton Evans

At 10:43 am +0000 3/11/03, Narey, Kevin wrote:
>I apologise now if this is too fine grained for this forum.
>
>As a web ui developer I often come across the issue of displaying large
>amounts of data on one page. Recent feedback suggested that some of our
>users don't really mind internal scrolling as it keeps the surrounding
>environment 'stable' whilst scrolling through large amounts of data (i.e. a

>frameset). However, Nielsen et al are not proponents of this method as it
is
>non-standard.
>Obviously, there is the 'treating it on a case by case basis' scenario
here,
>but for all those who design displays with large amounts of data, what
>usable methods do you employ?
>
>Regards
>
>Kevin Narey
>---------------------------------------------------
>gedas united kingdom limited (vw group)
>Development Practice
>----------------------------------------------------
>
>
>
>
>**********************************************************************
>gedas united kingdom limited
>Registered in England no. 1371338
>
>This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential
>and it may be privileged.
>
>It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
>whom it is addressed.
>
>If you have received this in error, please contact the sender
>and delete the material immediately.
>**********************************************************************
>_______________________________________________
>Interaction Design Discussion List
>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
already)
>http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>--
>http://interactiondesigners.com/

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
--
to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
--
Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
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Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)

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Notice and Disclaimer
The information in this e-mail which includes any attachments is
confidential and is legally privileged. It is intended solely for the
addressee, and access to this e-mail by anyone else is unauthorised. If
you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or
action taken or omitted in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be
unlawful. Please notify the sender immediately and delete the e-mail.
Whilst all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the accuracy and integrity
of information and data transmitted electronically and to preserve the
confidentiality thereof, ICL will not be held liable or responsible arising
out of information or data that is, for whatever reason, intercepted,
corrupted, infected with a computer virus or does not reach its intended
destination. It is the responsibility of the named recipient(s) to ensure
that this e-mail and its contents are virus free.

Directors: M P Stares* (Chairman), E C de Kock (Managing), D J Courtley*
*British
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For full details on our Disclaimer :
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3 Nov 2003 - 9:16am
vutpakdi
2003

--- David Heller <dave at interactiondesigners.com> wrote:
> I don't think the question of internal scrolling is that simple,
> especially
> in terms of lists.
> I do think you have to separate the question about lists from the
> question
> about articles.
>
> Lists:
> There is a big technical drawback to having unbounded lists. Just look at
> the Windows OS where folder lists are unbound. Try opening a directory w/
> 1000's of files in it and that directory is over the network? The delay
> is
> staggering.
>
> This problem is even more confounded on a web-based system where an app
> server and a database (let alone the middleware app itself) all take a
> tremendous strain when creating too many records. The delay and the
> server
> load are the main reasons for NOT having scrolling. yes, we would prefer
> to
> just have a long sortable and scrollable list, but I think if it mean
> waiting 2min. and having the system crash on the other side (I use hte
> word
> crash very loosely), then we probably would be more upset.

The bandwidth issues are still important partly because many people are
still working over slow connections (dial up). So, a page at a time is a
little easier to receive and display (for the computer), particularly if
the page contains pictures. Thus, the apparent performance is better.

I do like it when articles can be put into "print" format which usually
means a long, long page.

Also, do a number of people still forget or not think to scroll? And,
breaking up the article into pages makes the article a little easier to
digest.

Being a little cynical, having a page at a time also gives advertisers more
room to put advertisements. :-(

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

__________________________________
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3 Nov 2003 - 9:22am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Monday, November 3, 2003, at 05:43 AM, Narey, Kevin wrote:

> I apologise now if this is too fine grained for this forum.

I think this is a great question for this forum.

>
> As a web ui developer I often come across the issue of displaying large
> amounts of data on one page. Recent feedback suggested that some of our
> users don't really mind internal scrolling as it keeps the surrounding
> environment 'stable' whilst scrolling through large amounts of data
> (i.e. a
> frameset). However, Nielsen et al are not proponents of this method as
> it is
> non-standard.

Jakob has actually backed off being anti-scrolling:

"Pages that can be markedly improved with a scrolling design may be
made as long as necessary, though it should be a rare exception to go
beyond three screenfulls on an average monitor."

http://www.robotwisdom.com/web/pagelength.html

I assume he means vertical scrolling. Horizontal scrolling is another
matter. It's been my experience that users hate that. The horizontal
can't be scrolled easily, due to its placement at the bottom of the
browser and not being connected to the mouse wheel (for some).

Dan

3 Nov 2003 - 9:41am
vutpakdi
2003

--- Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:
> I assume he means vertical scrolling. Horizontal scrolling is another
> matter. It's been my experience that users hate that. The horizontal
> can't be scrolled easily, due to its placement at the bottom of the
> browser and not being connected to the mouse wheel (for some).

I think that it's worse than that: users don't seem to *think* to scroll
horizontally unless it's obvious that something is cut off on the
right/left. I've seen many cases where, if the columns of a table happen
to be wide enough that there is a whole number of columns visible (and more
to the right/left), the users just don't "see" the horizontal scrollbar and
therefore don't realize that there is something to the right/left.

I've been a victim of this myopia myself. Last year, I purchased a new
iBook after having been away from Macs for about 5-6 years. It took me 2
months before I "saw" the horizontal scroll bar in the OS X (Jaguar)
Open/Save dialogs and realized that I could navigate up the directory
structure by scrolling to the left.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
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3 Nov 2003 - 10:05am
Josh Seiden
2003

> As a web ui developer I often come across the issue
of
> displaying large amounts of data on one page.

[snip]

> but for
> all those who design displays with large amounts of
data,
> what usable methods do you employ?

There are two basic "methods" that I would use here:

1. Tweak the scrolling idiom. This would involve
looking for better ways to scroll or chunk the data.

But this approach will go only so far. Cooper says,
"all idioms have practical limits." With lists, (I'm
assuming you have a list here) there is a point at
which they become so long that even the best scrolling
mechanism is still a band-aid. And paging and chunking
isn't much better. How often to people hit page 4 of
their Google search results?

2. Re-examine the assumptions that lead to the display
of so much data on the page.

I find this latter approach much more powerful. Start
by asking this: why is there so much "data" on the
page? Is it because that's what the user wants, or is
it a side effect of our choice to use a list?

What is the user trying to do? Is presenting the data
this way really the best solution in terms of user
goals? Can you anticipate what the user wants, and
present the information in a more inflected manner? Can
you pull the key information out of the data so that
you don't have an infinitely long presentation?

Is the user looking for a big-picture sense of the
entire data set? If that's a case, don't use a list.
Try creating an overview presentation. Here's a good
example:

www.smartmoney.com/marketmap

Is the user trying to find one specific thing? Maybe
that can be done without the list as well. (In the
example above, it's easy to see at a glance the handful
of best and worst performing stocks, for example.) If a
list still seems right, then perhaps you need to
support it with a better way to bring the likely hits
to the top, with sorting and winnowing tools, for
example.

Thanks,
JS

3 Nov 2003 - 12:00pm
jstanford
2003

We have actually designed a number of web applications over the past few
years that involved long tables of informaiton pulled from a database
(such as a list of account collections items). Our usability testing has
shown that people indeed prefer a longer list of items that they can
sort and search on (we provide search fields at the top for long tables
of info, in general) rather then multiple pages with 10 items or
whatever on each page so that there is no scrolling. It is more painful
to sit and wait for each subsequent page of data in the table to load
than waiting a few more seconds at the beginning for a longer table of
data to load. So, we generally like to display 50 items or so on a page.
In cases where we provided a dropdown so that users can choose how many
items to display on a page, we noticed that people tended to crank it up
to the max. So sometimes we provide the dropdown with a number like 100
or something as the max to satisfy those folks.

Julie

3 Nov 2003 - 12:51pm
Don Jewett
2003

Kevin,

Dan was quoting Nielsen's AlertBox from 1997:
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9712a.html

Nielsen's opinions tend to be directly informed
by user research-- so his conclusions change as
the internet culture changes.

I would rethink the whole scrolling issue and
try to solve the design problem without this
former constraint. Internal scrolling could be
more frustrating than long page scrolling in
a lot of cases.

Don Jewett

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Saffer" <dan at odannyboy.com>
To: "Narey, Kevin" <Kevin.Narey at Gedas.co.uk>
Cc: <discuss at interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Monday, November 03, 2003 6:22 AM
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Internal scrolling usability

>
> On Monday, November 3, 2003, at 05:43 AM, Narey, Kevin wrote:
>
> > I apologise now if this is too fine grained for this forum.
>
> I think this is a great question for this forum.
>
> >
> > As a web ui developer I often come across the issue of displaying large
> > amounts of data on one page. Recent feedback suggested that some of our
> > users don't really mind internal scrolling as it keeps the surrounding
> > environment 'stable' whilst scrolling through large amounts of data
> > (i.e. a
> > frameset). However, Nielsen et al are not proponents of this method as
> > it is
> > non-standard.
>
> Jakob has actually backed off being anti-scrolling:
>
> "Pages that can be markedly improved with a scrolling design may be
> made as long as necessary, though it should be a rare exception to go
> beyond three screenfulls on an average monitor."
>
> http://www.robotwisdom.com/web/pagelength.html
>
> I assume he means vertical scrolling. Horizontal scrolling is another
> matter. It's been my experience that users hate that. The horizontal
> can't be scrolled easily, due to its placement at the bottom of the
> browser and not being connected to the mouse wheel (for some).
>
> Dan
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

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