Joe Hewitt

Inertial Scrolling

Today my girlfriend and I are launching a new photo blog that we've made together called Up on a Hill. The photos and text are mostly by Laura, and the code and design are by me. The blog combines large photos with overlapping blog posts, and uses Scrollability to scroll vertically through the posts and horizontally through each post's photo gallery.

The design of Up on a Hill has been optimized for desktops, phones, and iPads, and Scrollability is leveraged in different ways on each. On phones and desktops, native scrolling is still used to scroll vertically, but Scrollability handles flipping horizontally through photo galleries. On iPads, however, Scrollability handles both vertical and horizontal scrolling. I think the site feels fantastic to use on all three kinds of device, but is especially a treat on the iPad.

Some might see Scrollability as a tool for replicating native-looking iOS user interfaces on the web, but I think that Up on a Hill shows that Scrollability's greatest value is in leveraging inertial scrolling for even non-standard interfaces. Inertial scrolling is a fundamental part of touch screen devices, regardless of their visual design, and should be used more often on the web.

Most mobile websites still rely on clicking (actually, tapping) buttons to navigate through sections that should really be using inertial scrolling, like photo galleries. That's unfortunate, because flicking through pages is a far more comfortable than tapping on small "next" and "previous" buttons. My hope is that Scrollability will encourage mobile web developers to be more like native app developers, and use inertial scrolling when it makes sense, rather than falling back on desktop conventions.