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Developing for an increasingly mobile world is difficult, and keeping on top of user habits is even more so.

Whilst conducting a UI improvement workshop for one of our CRM systems recently, somebody expressed the idea that our current horizontal scrolling system would actually be ideal for tablet use if it was developed a little more.

It made us realise that vertical scrolling might be on the nosedive, despite other users being critical of this feature altogether.

Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen once demonstrated his distain for horizontal scrolling by nodding and then shaking his head; implying vertical = yes and horizontal = no.

He has a valid point. As most of us engage with a computer or mobile device regularly, we’re all so used to scrolling up & down that it has become an inbuilt habit. Anything else would feel odd.

But the natural way of holding a tablet or touch-screen mobile device means that to scroll horizontally with a finger or thumb is actually very intuitive.

According to Gartner research, around 119 million tablets have been sold to date, and this is expected to rise to around 370 million by 2016. The tablet market is exploding, and therefore we need to design our applications and websites with that in mind.

We have recently seen an influx of websites that have responsive design, and are increasingly seeing touch-friendly sites pop up across the web. All this is due to the dramatic rise in mobile web browsing.

But also look out for more and more horizontally based sites across the web in the future as the tablet and touch-screen mobile market continues to expand in the coming years.

See here for 40 of the best horizontal scrolling websites: http://bit.ly/RSSMKu

Just like online shopping, horizontal scrolling was once seen as backward and inefficient, but with the advance of mobile technology and touch devices it is fast becoming the new trend.

It’s not a case of style over practicality anymore, as horizontal scrolling may be the way forward in web and app design.

What do you think about horizontal vs. vertical? Can you see yourself becoming more accustomed to moving sideways? Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to register to keep updated.

 

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