In April, the Chrome team released a scroll and touch-action survey based on top reported issues from the 2019 MDN Web DNA Report. The 2021 Scroll Survey Report is ready, and the Chrome team would like to share some thoughts and action items we’ve gleaned from the survey results. We hope these results will help browser vendors and standards groups understand how to improve web scrolling.
View the 2021 Scroll Survey Report.
Noteworthy results #
The survey anonymously collected 880 submissions, with 366 answering every question.
While getting started with scrolling is one line of CSS, like
Overall satisfaction with web scrolling #
are somewhat or extremely dissatisfied overall
with web scrolling.
This question was placed near the end of the survey intentionally, after questions on 26 scroll use cases and features. From the response, it’s clear that the web community struggles with scroll. Almost half of the respondents report a level of overall dissatisfaction.
We believe overall sentiment about working with scroll should not be this low. This metric needs to be changed; it’s a clear signal there’s work to be done.
Difficulty working with scroll #
reported it’s somewhat or
to work with scrolling.
From our research, these difficulties come from the multitude of use cases for scroll. When we talk about scrolling, that might include:
Importance of touch interactions #
report touch interactions as
very or extremely important
to their work.
With mobile web users still on the rise in visit statistics, it wasn’t surprising to see half of the respondents report that touch is very important to their work on the web. This signaled that web features like CSS scroll snap and
touch-action need extra attention so the web can deliver on high-quality touch interaction.
Difficulty of tab key or gamepad navigation #
report somewhat or extremely difficult
to do gamepad and tab navigation.
Scrolling includes navigation methods such as keyboard arrows, tab keys, spacebar presses, and gamepads, and it can be difficult to include these when doing custom scroll work. Almost half of the respondents report it’s somewhat or extremely difficult to include these inputs.
report learning about
from the survey.
Some of the survey questions asked about using certain APIs with a possible answer of Yes, No, or “today I learned.” One notable piece of feedback was the number of people who reported learning about
touch-action from the survey, as it’s a critical property when building custom touch gestures that need to interact within scroll.
Cyclical scrolling #
report sometimes, often or on every project
using cyclical scrolling.
Are scrollable areas important #
report not at all
or slightly important
Respondents felt strongly about the importance of scrollable areas, giving another signal about the struggles required to deliver high-quality scrolling.
easy to manage.
Nearly every respondent delivers carousels in their web work, while only 25% find them easy to manage. Off-the-shelf carousels were popular during our research, but this statistic surprised us, as it doesn’t sound very solved.
Infinite scroll #
use it sometimes
to every project
Two-thirds of respondents deliver infinite scroll in their web work, and an equal amount report it’s difficult to do. Another example of high usage paired with high difficulty, which indicates to us an area needing attention.
contain-intrinsic-size can be combined to reduce render costs for long scrollable areas, it doesn’t seem to be helping with “load more” infinite scroll UX.
Scroll-linked or scroll-triggered animations #
use it sometimes
to every project
report somewhat or
Almost half of all respondents use scroll-orchestrated animations and half the respondents find it difficult, once again linking high usage with difficulty.
Compete with built-in scrolling #
most of the time
The built-in scroll and touch interactions of phone and tablet applications are often touted as a clear place where the web can catch up. The features include scroll-linked animations, programmatic interfaces, voice integration, scroll hints, and pull-to-refresh APIs.
Just half of the respondents felt it was only sometimes possible to match the experience of built-in scrolling.
Overall satisfaction building scroll interactions on the web #
Survey Takeaways #
The Chrome team has declared a goal to decrease the number of web compatibility issues, including scroll compatibility.
The first three compatibility issues to focus on:
- Horizontal scrolling compatibility.
- Removing prefixes from
-webkit-scrollbarand following the standard.
The survey results showed that there needs to be more education around
touch-action and logical properties. The browser is at the forefront of international layout, and it’s apparent it’s underutilized or misunderstood.
Areas to focus on:
Usage of scroll snapping is growing, and developers have responded that they want to use features interoperably with popular libraries and plugins. Shrinking this gap between CSS and plugin libraries will help the satisfaction of scroll snap developer and user experience.
We’ll focus API work on
- API availability and compatibility across browsers.
- Begin work on new CSS APIs like
- Begin work on new JS events like
The survey results showed that users struggle with some specific types of scroll-related components on the web, as the platform doesn’t provide the primitives they need to build them without plugins or a high level of effort. This is an area that we hope to explore more deeply.
The features developers struggle to build include:
- Virtual scroll
- Infinite scroll