Paginate the Web?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Web pages scroll, usually vertically. Is this a good thing?

I was reading an article that Deb pointed out from The Atlantic: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and I noticed something: I could easily keep attention on the page when I wasn’t scrolling. But as soon as I got to the bottom of the page, it was much harder to stay focused.

What if web browsers paginated articles by default, instead of laying them out in a vertical scroll view by default? Would that improve reader attention span, or just cause users to stop reading after the first page?

Is it possible to write a Firefox extension to render websites as paginated entities instead of scrolling entities? I suspect not, and that would require assistance from the core Gecko layout engine, but I think it would be a very interesting UI experiment!