You certainly work hard to improve your site’s usability so your users will be happier and more likely to come back often, right? Well, one of the improvements you could implement is the infinite scrolling technique. It’s basically the same as what we have at Twitter or Facebook, where just basic content is shown at first, and more content is added as you scroll down. This is pretty good to improve your site’s performance (reducing loading time), and improving user experience (since no action is needed to load more items, like clicking in a button).
Here we’ll see why and how to use it in your own site
Examples os Infinite Scrolling site
It’s always good to check what the big guys are doing out there, and this kind of effect (tough many times unnoticeable) is used by a lot of big sites and apps, like Facebook (that live feed), Twitter, Pinterest, Feedly.
Infinite Scroll – Do’s and Don’ts
This technique will remove the regular pagination link of your site (“older posts”, or the numbered pages you have after your posts). The big “pro” of this technique is the loading time, since less items are loaded at first you can have a much faster site, and since more items are added without page reload user can scroll down for 10 “pages” of posts without even noticing, staying much longer in your site.
It can be applied in most sites, but it’s better suitable for blogs or portfolio-like sites, where you have a lot of content and images, and you don’t want to overwhelm the user with a lot of content.
This guide doesn’t require coding proficiency, and to be honest you’ll certainly learn a little on how to tweak your WordPress theme a little bit.
We’ll use Paul Irish’s JS plugin. Download it and install it in your theme’s js folder. We’ll use the Twenty Twelve for learning proposes but feel free to use it in any theme (and post questions if it’s not working for you).
Also you’ll need a nice gif image for your “loading” message. You could find a lot of them out there, but the AjaxLoad site has quite an awesome tool to help you with a lot of preset styles and you can choose the color that better matches your color scheme.
Once you have the script and your nice gif image under Wp-content/themes/twentytwelve/js we can get started!
The PHP code
Ok, don’t be scared, we’ll give you a copy & paste snippet, but here is what we need to do to get it working:
- Create a function that will load and register the infinite scroll plugin internally – This will prevent WordPress from loading it twice and breaking theme’s functionality
- Load script only when you have a page that is not a single post – only pages where you have more than 1 post to show will need to load more items.
The functions.php file is your theme’s heart. All functionality is usually there or it’s called there from other files. So we can add this code in your functions file to add the infinite scrolling support (add it in the end of the file):
Alternative approach – loading pages and custom post types
The previous code will load all your posts, but what if you wanted to show pages, or custom post types (like portfolio items, if you theme supports it)? Well, we can modify the code a little bit and get it working also.
The only adjustment needed is in your index, category or any other file that will load items, you’ll replace your current loop with a different code. You can identify your loop by this code:
So, once you’ve found it you can use this magic code:
<div id="content" role="main"> <?php /* Show only Pages on infinite scroll! Here is the secret: You can set post_type for what you need, it's simple! Some post_types could be: portfolio, project, product We could add as many post types as we want, separating them by commas, like 'post', 'page', 'product' */ $args = array( // set up arguments 'post_type' => 'page', // Only Pages ); query_posts($args); // load posts if ( have_posts() ) : ?> <?php /* Start the Loop */ ?> <?php while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); //the "usual" loop code to display those items ?>
This is just a “warming up” article. There are a lot of things that you could do with this kind of approach. For instance, you could load products in your store (using WooCommerce, maybe) as user scrolls, or even add more JS and CSS code there to create and awesome parallax-like loader for post images.
What do you think about this technique? Do you like it? Would you use it? Share your thoughts using the comments section!