We changed the pagination method because we feel the “View More” button provides a much better user experience.
Problems with pagination:
- Very few users ever use pagination links – while every study is dependent on its own unique context, I generally see numbers around 5%. Even if users are aware there are more results, most simply assume that if what they want isn’t among the first few results, they should try elsewhere (or alter their search parameters).
- Pagination links require the entire page to reload before offering the next set of choices.
- Pagination links generally offer the user a confusing series of choices: “<< 1 2 3 >>”. Do I want to see the next page, page 2, or skip ahead to page 3? And how many pages are there, exactly?
- Most pagination links have a “View All” button for users that want to see everything on the page at once; with a lot of results (and often you can’t control the results, for instance if someone searches for something very common), load time suffers and the page can easily break.
- Pagination links have the conflicting visual problem of both adding to clutter (generally need to go at the top and bottom of the page; individual pagination elements consist of many different links) and being hard-to-find (generally hang out on the far right and can easily get mixed in with other page elements).
Advantages to the “View More” button
- Uses AJAX to quickly load additional results. The rest of the page stays in place.
- Offers a single, unambiguous choice.
- Allows for a user to view all choices at once, without straining the page load; simply requires clicking the button multiple times (if you are concerned about forcing the user to click the button ten times, ask yourself why the user wishes to see 100+ options all at once; you probably have a different usability issue).
- Is non-visually intrusive (single button at the bottom of the page) that is easy to find (when the user gets to the end of the list, the button is the next thing they see). Users who are only interesting in the first few results (most of them) will never see the button. (By the way, this is a good thing – ideally, the user only sees functionality they want, at the moment they want it.)
Caveats and warnings (my favorite part)
- Nothing is ever a universal solution and there are instances where pagination works better. For example, when displaying a Google Map (and results can’t stretch down the page).
- Pagination allows users to link to a specific set of results (“Here’s page three of my results!”) and the “View More” button does not. But this is not a likely user action (if your user needs to send page 3 of her results to a friend, you may be doing something else wrong).
- “View More” buttons should only be used in situations where the header makes it clear how many results/elements there are on the page (“804 Restaurants”). Don’t be like 37 Signals and leave your users guessing when they are going to run out of results. (But dynamic counters that update on each click of the “View More” button are probably overkill; I don’t need to know exactly how many more results there are, or where I am in the list – a general idea is usually more than fine.)
In the very few tests we’ve with done with the “View More” button, people have had no problem with it. But most ignore it – as expected. (And I don’t think I have ever seen a person click on a pagination link in a user test.) Not sure about old versus young, but I would expect less savvy people to have an easier time with the “View More” button because it is easy to find and unambiguous (usually you have to be expecting the pagination links to know how to use them).