Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is the concept of a page now defunct ?

The page is a metaphor that has existed since the web began. It's a simple device that allows users to navigate around the Internet easily and provides a unique location for each individual piece of content & functionality. Big sites have a lot of pages and even bigger sites have loads, that was the way of the web.

However, there are several current trends that could see the end of the page paradigm as we know it:

1. Parametised search
Have you ever gone to a major ecommerce site (e.g. www.johnlewis.com) and started to browse their catalogue of products? If so, then you may have noticed that the multi-select options, typically shown down the side, allow you to repeatedly filter your choices. In a lot of cases this doesn't refresh the page, but just redisplays the available products in the main viewing area. 

2. Browser address bar prominence
As browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox have developed over the years, the actual address bar showing the URL has become less prominent. So much so that for a lot of users, this once obvious feature is now relegated to a small letterbox more useful as a way of seeing if a site is secure (using https and sometimes turning green to depict an extra level of security). Conspiracy theorists may say this is a ploy by the browser makers of reducing our dependency on URLs as a way of navigating the world wide web, however I think it's just a natural move to provide more screen real estate and a sign of how the address bar has become less used (perhaps as we now follow more links from Social sourced?).

3. Constant scrolling 
If you use sites like Twitter and LinkedIn you will notice that you no longer have to click 'next page' or anything similar when you get to the bottom of the page you are on. Instead the next set of tweets, timelines, results, etc. automatically appear. This use of clever results that display more when you need them may seem useful, but what if every site did it? Would you ever need more than one page of results? 
And more to the point.... What if Google and other search engines now did this? 
(For one thing, it would certainly make the client demand of "get me on the first page of Google" far easier to achieve)
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