Horizontal Scrolling on the Web


Left to right scrolling has always been considered a designer’s valiant effort to be different with little recognition or acceptance from users. It became somewhat achievable when the Mighty Mouse was released with its 360 degree scrolling nubbin. Even then, horizontal scrolling was frustrating and unnecessary. Little changed with the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad which made it even easier to scroll in any direction. The bigger issue is not knowing there is content to scroll to.

Side note: I desperately wanted a Kensington Expert Mouse when I was a young lad using a Performa 6300.

Apple famously hijacked vertically scrolling in 2013 when the Mac Pro was announced. Even with the distractingly beautiful photos it’s a frustrating experience.

And now we’re here. Apple’s designers solved the issue of not knowing there’s content on the right by automatically scrolling from right to left when you vertically scroll.

Notice how the vertical scroll bar on the right side of the screen moves downward as you scroll horizontally. This feels unusual especially when you reach the end of the content and the interface switches to vertically scrolling. When you scroll back up the page the interface does the opposite: vertical scrolling switches to horizontal scrolling.

I applaud Apple for finding a new way to hijack scrolling, and continuing to push boundaries. The large type and animations are beautiful as usual, but I find the experience overall to still be frustrating. We are simply not trained to maintain spatial awareness in a horizontal space.