A simple solution to misscrolling

Tim Bray discusses a problem he calls ‘misscrolling’—the disorientation one encounters when scrolling down through a document page by page, and reaching the bottom:
For some reason, browsers are reluctant to leave white space showing at the bottom of the window… leaving the last line you were reading stranded at some random location in the middle of the page.
When this happens, my flow of reading is disrupted because my eye doesn’t knowwhere to go to pick up where I left off.
I thought of this solution a couple of years ago: immediately after scrolling, if the end of the content has been reached, a red line should appear at the point that was the bottom of the page before scrolling. This red line should fade away after a few seconds. The red line tells you where you left off, so you know exactly where to continue reading.

I saw something like this in an e-book reader a few weeks ago. It wasn’t implemented as a line, but a little arrow marker that appeared briefly in the left margin.

Padding the bottom (or indeed, any side) of a document with white space doesn’t seems like the best solution to this problem. When one reaches the end, there should be a clear indication of this. Apple has chosen to bring iOS’s ‘rubber-banding’ effect the Mac to make these edges even more clear to the user.

In a text editor or spreadsheet program, it makes sense to let the user could scroll an arbitrary distance beyond the limits of the content; however, this wouldn’t make a web browser easier to use.

Via Daring Fireball.

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