What Idiot(s) Brought Back Infinite Scrolling Websites?

the doctor really wants to know because that (collective of) individuals should be tarred and feather!

What is the doctor ranting about now?

Back in the early days of the World Wide Web when HTML was in version 1.0, when Mosaic and Netscape ruled the web (before Microsoft released the horror called Internet Explorer upon the web), websites were relatively simple web pages that scrolled and scrolled and scrolled (as frames, which hadn’t yet been invented, were two years off and tabs further off still). CGI was still being invented (by the NCSA team) and it would be three more years before version 1.1 was formally defined (which would make dynamic web sites truly feasible and lay the framework for proper, real-time, pagination).

Then HTML, CGI, and browser technology matured and we got well structured, properly paginated, well-designed web-sites. And these got better and better over time. And for those who kept up to date, mouse-overs, drill-down menus, dynamic animations, and even time-delayed responses. And properly used, these were all good improvements (as long as you could stop the animation or sound if you didn’t want it) and made the web experience better.

But now, almost every fourth site is an infinite scrolling site, just like at the beginning of the web! And it’s driving me nuts. Once frames and pagination became common, only amateur sites were infinite scroll. Because who wants to scroll and scroll and scroll looking for the information they want? No one in their right mind!

And for those of you jumping to the defense of these sites because they’re not really infinite scroll as you can expand and collapse the page dynamically with arrows and gestures, they’re still websites on one page! And with all of the progress we’ve made over the last 20 years, it’s ridiculous. I know it’s the newest fad, but it’s pathetic. Why?

Because it represents an utter lack of imagination and innovation. And, in particular, on the part of the big web shops selling these sites.

You see, these shops stay in business not by selling new companies websites, as it doesn’t take that much time or effort to throw up a web-site for a start-up (who won’t pay much for it anyway) because it can be quickly put together with a bit of custom imagery and provided content using a plethora of free open source blog, wiki, CRM, and even social network platforms. They make money by selling existing clients maintenance services and, more importantly, regular web-site upgrades because, every year, new technology is developed and a website that isn’t continually updated to use that technology looks antiquated and possibly abandoned (which, if you are a technology company, could make you, by association, look antiquated and possibly on the decline).

So, every year or so, they have to come up with a must-need piece of technology that the web-sites of the majority of their clients must have so that they can sell upgrades and stay very profitable.

But we have reached the point where we are at an inflection point. For the last few years, there have been no revolutionary new developments in web technology, just evolutionary ones, and we have reached the point where most technology solution providers have very modern, extremely powerful, web-sites and don’t need complete overhauls, just minor, regular maintenance. This is not very profitable, so these web site development companies need to either develop a new innovation, or, like a traditional consulting company when their business and attention is on the decline, come up with a new gimmick to get more work and increase their profit margin. And in this case, this is undeniably 100% gimmick. And, by definition, a 100% rip-off to their clients who, for the most part, probably already had great sites that just needed a little graphic touch-up, a slightly-streamlined information flow, and a little bit more social media technology.

But even though I said otherwise, from a sales and marketing perspective, it is very imaginative — because it’s netting these web development companies not just one, but two — that’s right — two website upgrades. You see, just like in the early days of the web, it’s not going to take long before people realize that the infinite scrolling (web) site is the most annoying development to hit the web since … wait for it … the first infinite scrolling (web) site two decades ago! Once the web realizes en-masse that it was insanely stupid to bring back the infinite scrolling web-site, these web development companies will get an overload of web-site redesign requests for something … anything … better.

And for this as well, they deserve to be tarred and feathered. Technology is about evolution and revolution, not devolution. the doctor‘s gears have really been ground to the point where he wants to go on TV and complain like Peter Griffin.