Have you ever had a friend share a link to an article you really wanted to read (like those juicy recaps of The Walking Dead) and when you got to the page and started reading the page suddenly shifted up back near the top of the page as if everything shifted beneath you? These annoying “hiccups” occur when a website is progressively loading additional content above the visible area, which pushes down what’s on the screen. The content could be anything from a video to a high resolution image — but the result is always the same: a “hiccup”. It’s an annoying glitch that muddies an otherwise crystal clear mobile experience, and Google says it’s stamping it out.
With the latest update to Google Chrome, the search engine giant is introducing something called scroll anchoring, which locks the content you’re currently looking at on a mobile device to the screen, thus keeping you in the same spot so you can keep watching a video or reading an article without that annoying “hiccup” causing you to lose your spot and scroll back to where you were.
Google said “Today we’re preventing an average of almost three “jumps” per pageview, and we’re still getting better.” As usual, one small step for Google is one giant leap for mankind. With this move Google promises to solve one of the great dilemmas for mobile device users around the world, which is a big problem considering how many people are using mobile devices to access content online everyday. This is the kind of UX improvement that can make the difference between a mediocre mobile browsing experience and a flawless one.
If you’re a web developer or you’d like to learn more, see Google’s technical guide to understand how it works and what it means for your website. If you’d like see a side-by-side comparison of a mobile browsing experience without and with scroll anchoring, then check out the video below: