Stop Losing My Vertical Scroll Position

I experience the disorienting loss of vertical scroll position in many of the apps and websites I use. Twitter and other stream interfaces update the feed while you’re scrolling, losing your place. Page and card interactions often plop you back at the top of a list when you hit the back button, especially if there are filters active.

I’ll illustrate with wordpress.com since I use it a lot and helped make it.

In the screenshot below, I scrolled the theme browser down a bit.

Screenshot of the wordpress.com admin interface showing the theme browser/selector. Selectable theme cards are laid out in a grid. The page is scrolled down about 1/3.
Screenshot of the wordpress.com admin interface showing the theme browser/selector. Selectable theme cards are laid out in a grid. The page is scrolled down about 1/3.

And then clicked the “Shoreditch” theme.

A screenshot of the theme details page for the Shoreditch theme. <- All Themes shows in the menu navigation.
A screenshot of the theme details page for the Shoreditch theme. <- All Themes shows in the menu navigation.

And then clicked “<- All Themes” to go back.

Screenshot of the theme browser page, which is now scrolled to the top instead of 1/3 down where I left off.
Screenshot of the theme browser page, which is now scrolled to the top instead of 1/3 down where I left off.

And lost my scroll position.

A gallery style browser that loses vertical scroll position is very frustrating. Repeated grid and list scanning is headache inducing and exhausting.

I spend too much time getting back to where I was, trying not to fall out of high memory state, trying not to crash my stack. Vertical scroll position is sacred. The back button should take me back to where I was, not respawn me at the checkpoint at the beginning of the dungeon. It should not be a quest restart button.

Here’s another example on wordpress.com. In the following shot, I scrolled some search results down a bit.

Screenshot of the wordpress.com admin interface showing the "Blog Posts" list. The list is showing the results for a search on "anxiety". The list is scrolled down from the top.
Screenshot of the wordpress.com admin interface showing the “Blog Posts” list. The list is showing the results for a search on “anxiety”. The list is scrolled down from the top.

And then clicked on a post in the list to open the editor and peek at the contents.

Screenshot of the editor showing "Design is Tested at the Edges: Intersectionality, The Social Model of Disability, and Design for Real Life".  There's a Close button in the top left corner.
Screenshot of the editor showing “Design is Tested at the Edges: Intersectionality, The Social Model of Disability, and Design for Real Life”. There’s a Close button in the top left corner.

And clicked “Close” to go back to the blog posts list.

Screenshot of the "Blog Posts" list with the list scrolled back to the top.
Screenshot of the “Blog Posts” list with the list scrolled back to the top.

And lost my vertical scroll position. During searches, I often dip in and out of the editor looking for what I want. Repeatedly losing scroll position makes this so frustrating and slow.

One more example, this time with Netflix.

Scroll down.

A screenshot of Netflix with the video browsing grid scrolled down.
A screenshot of Netflix with the video browsing grid scrolled down.

Click a show to start playing.

A screenshot of the Netflix video player with a back arrow button in the top left.
A screenshot of the Netflix video player with a back arrow button in the top left.

Click the back button to go back to the video grid.

Screenshot showing the video browser  scrolled to the top.
Screenshot showing the video browser scrolled to the top.

Lose your place.

I felt frissons of frustration and loss back in the 1980s when my fingers —my little stack pointers and quest markers—slipped from the leaves of my choose your own adventure books. Now, I experience those feelings with regularity in my relationships with software. I regret associating those physical memories with a common software interaction bug: one that, seemingly, many of us can’t reliably fix.

The occasional slipped finger added to the sense of journey and questing. Repeated, daily loss of scroll position merits no associations with nostalgic sepia. The complex software interfaces I use today fail as custodians of context more reliably than did my 10 year old fingers.

#vscroll-loss #list-scanning

#stresscase #anxiety-flow #painpoint #frustrated #discouraged

One thought on “Stop Losing My Vertical Scroll Position

  1. #State!
    I think this is one of those 80/20 areas where fixing that detailed specific is part of the 20% that soaks up time and resources without garnering what opportunistic types would judge to be sufficientlyi positive RoI.

    I wonder … do Open Source projects tend to take care of lovely details more and better than commercial shops that are to deadline- and budget-driven?

    Like

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