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Horizontal Scrolling
Not that bad really?

 10:39 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I can remember coming across gallery pages on a site that horizontally scrolled and also a university page (or something like that) which used it rather than vertical scrolling.

I never checked for browser compatibility, or even looked at the code. Wish I'd bookmarked them.

However I do remember they caught my eye and made me take a closer look just because they were unusual and I tend to avoid horizontal scrolling rather than work to achieve it.

I wonder if this would work on a Joe Bloggs not-a-designer user?



 10:49 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

For me, it would really depend on the site. Most sites, I would probably find it incredibly annoying. Of course, part of the reason is that I have become incredibly dependant on the scroll wheel on my mouse for navigating down a page, and I'd have to go back to using the regular scroll bars on a page that scrolled sideways.


 10:50 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

a damn good point! i think i probably visited those sites before i got a wheely mouse.

them were the days.... ;-)

shame really because Joe Bloggs user would hate that. I did think there was maybe something in it for the pure novelty of a site that didn't do the usual.


 4:59 pm on Nov 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I find it annoying if I have to scroll horizontally to view all of the content. Maybe because the alphabet we use is written horizontally up and down. Interesting is to see how people using a language written in vertical lines from left to right (or the opposite) reacts to horizontal scrolling.
BTW, is it possible or does websites with horizontal scrolling from right to left exist?


 5:19 pm on Nov 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can create a website that starts at the right and scrolls to the left - but some Javascript is required to set the page onLoad="scrollto(pagewidth)" or something like that.

Horizonal scrolling is the biggest taboo of web usability. One lonely place where horiz scrolling works is in fancy Flash movies where the controls are really obvious and easy-to-use. I made one that looked like a filmstrip which could be fed left and right. whoopee.


 8:49 pm on Nov 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have run some site useability tests and viewers surprisingly often could not locate things that required scrolling.

I now visualize a web page generally like the pages of a search result. If it is immediately visible it is page one. If not it is going to be ignored by many people.

As mentioned the mouse scroll wheel has made vertical scrolling somewhat acceptable but (and not every person has a mouse with a wheel) if the person has to move the cursor to a scroll bar then they can just as easily hit a link.

An added advantage to smaller (shorter) pages is that they load faster. This is especially important if heavy graphics use is required.


 11:29 pm on Nov 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

> I have run some site useability tests and viewers surprisingly often could not locate things that required scrolling.

Yah - the funny thing is that sometimes they can't locate things by scrolling vertically, let alone horizontally.

I think for a site to be successful with horizontal scrolling, it would have to have some really strong pull with a certain demographic group - such as teenagers or something.

I think most people want web pages to all basically function similarly - and they get annoyed when you give them something out of the norm.


 4:11 am on Dec 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Horizontal scrolling is no more unnatural than vertical. Refusing to even consider a design option is foolishness.

People get used to something and they can't handle anything else. Audience is definitely key. Joe Bloggs, sad to say, will always be well behind all things progressive.

There are at least a couple kick-ass horizontals at Zen Garden.


 3:16 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have chosen to use a horizontally scrolling site as it allows me to show my work (im a graphic designer) in best way possible. You dont get a vertical art gallery with a lift to take you to the next painting, that would be unnatural.

Seriously though, my magazine spreads can be shown in a coherent manner moving easily from one to the next. I find it works well but I'd love some other feedback.

Please find the site at <url rmoved - please see TOS [webmasterworld.com]>

Many thanks.


[edited by: tedster at 8:30 pm (utc) on Jan. 6, 2004]


 7:41 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

One of the main problems with horizontal scrolling is that it's not an option for WebTV users. If the page is wider than the WebTV resolution (560x420), it's simply made narrower.


 8:10 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Who cares about webtv and why? I'm not throwing a barb here. I'm asking.


 8:25 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I care about every browser. Horrendous though it is, many people do still use WebTV. Only about 0.2 of people use it, but that's still once out of ever 500, which is a lot of people if your site gets millions of visitors.


 9:10 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

many people do still use WebTV.

But it's still a failed technology.

I don't worry about it either.


 9:10 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Is there a reasonable way for me to test for webtv, if I deemed it important? I test in quite a few already because it is necessary, though generally I don't think that I would be inclined to worry about webtv. Relentess support of bad browsers encourages the problem.

A bigger issue for me are Macs, which I really would like to test for but am blind to. I just don't have access to everything that I would like.


 9:16 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I usually don't like horizontal scrolling, but a high end jewelery Store in NYC (the "T" one) makes it work for them.


 9:28 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have never seen a decent site that depended on horizontal scrolling. I can't even imagine how you would make it look anywhere near neat and clean with the variety of resolutions out there.

I have seen some pretty neat Flash based horizontal scrolling galleries, though, but you don't normally need your mouse ball to move them, you simply place the pointer on one side or the other and they automatically keep scrolling till you remove the pointer.

robert adams

 1:15 am on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hate horizontal scrolling too, however, many people design at higher than 800x600,therefore reauiring most of the viewing public to scroll sideways. Heck I only just recently moved up to designing for 800x600 instead of 640x480.



 3:23 am on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

The International Herald Tribune uses a fixed width layout with three columns, to simulate a newspaper. The columns make the articles much easier to read than long lines of window-wide text, IMHO. Clicking on the third column pages forward and clicking on the first column pages backward. This sort of "horizontal scrolling" (actually just pagination) I find much easier to use/read than actual horizontal scrolling.

BTW you can also use the icons at the bottom of the page to display everything in a single vertically scrolled column.


 3:42 am on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

----I hate horizontal scrolling too,----

There's no native 'need' to hate scrolling. The old "change is strange" adage, where people can't handle what they are not familiar with is an unfortunate given with e-commerce, but perhaps higher and more innovative standards on the fringes will gradually work they way to the fore.


 3:44 am on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Since 99% of my website visitors are not website designers, and by definition are not "expert" users - I choose to design for "Grandma".

Most people barely know how to scroll vertically, and creating a "challenging" design (ie a site that uses horizontal scroll), you are going to find that lots of people just don't see that part of your page.

I have owned a cyber café for 5 years, and I have seen the "down and dirty" reality of User Interface.

People just barely understand how to use IE - don't expect them to adapt to a "non-traditional" user interface - they'll just go away, or cry for help.


 4:49 am on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

yeah, having also done a few usability tests, I would be extremely reluctant to go that route.

I have seen it used with good effect in some cartoon strips, where it seems natural to scroll horizontally, and it's faster than loading a whole lot of pages one after the other (although you could cache for the subsequent pages, but that gets tricky with older browsers).

So, for art, yes. Ecommerce? Not on the sites I run! :)


 12:16 pm on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

[developer.msntv.com...] --- this is the WebTV viewer, which allows you to simulate WebTV, and thus test for it. Yes, most sites look horrible in it.

robert adams

 3:21 pm on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

There's no native 'need' to hate scrolling. The old "change is strange" adage, where people can't handle what they are not familiar with is an unfortunate given with e-commerce, but perhaps higher and more innovative standards on the fringes will gradually work they way to the fore.

There's no "native need" to like scrolling either.
This is not about "change is strange", this is about usability and keeping your viewers happy. I don't consider making someone scroll sideways to read a line of text as being a "higher and more innovative standard".



 3:35 pm on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Higher," "innovative," "new" ... these do not equal "improvement," "progress," "standard." Otherwise we'd all be using Microsoft Bob not to mention the ten-day week calendar devised during the French Revolution, right? :-) Horizontal scrolling is definitely not something I'd roll out on most corporate or commercial sites, only on those sites which cater to early adopters, teenagers, or an audience seeking quirky or unusual designs.


 3:52 pm on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

www.makersmark.com - now they kow EXACTLY why they picked the horizontal scroll within their flash app...

One of the most entertaining sites (with every new release...)

Cheers, Jens


 4:22 pm on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the makers mark site is very nice and quirky and fits the brand very well indeed. However I do not like this scrolling method (not for horizontal reasons) - it is jerky and can get confusing at times as it jumps about a bit.

I have had good feedback on my horizontal site, it is done in html and people seem to be able to use it quite intuitively.

Dont write it off just cos it is not the norm or it's not 'innovative'. Good design should use whatever method is best suited to the content in use.


 9:22 pm on Jan 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

One use for horizontal scrolling when it seems to be natural and preferable is when displaying a 'flat' panoramic view photograph when ,say, the image is 1500 pixels wide.

It seems to add the experience of looking at a panoramic view, rather like turning your head or body to take in an actual panoramic view.

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