Usability is an extremely important part of web design and horizontal websites are not very user friendly.
Let me explain why.
Horizontal scrolling doesn’t come naturally to most web users.
- People read vertically. Horizontal scrolling isn’t used in webpages often for the same reason text doesn’t span across a spread in publications: the long scrolls across a page will tire the eyes of readers much faster.
- The mouse was designed for vertical scrolling. A horizontal website is hard to scroll. As a result, the majority of websites scroll up and down. Some of us has a four-way scrolling mouse and a 27″ widescreen monitor, but don’t you dare assume that all of your website’s users has the same privilege.
Should we always value usability above the “design” part of web design?
Yes! Usability doesn’t have to be uninspiring; it can lead to great designs that are not only practical but highly creative as well.
Today’s viewports are no longer a big horizontal rectangle. The websites we put out there may be viewed on all sorts of devices that supports both landscape and portrait mode.
Horizontal scrolling might work for some dezigner sites – or other sites that people expect to be “different” but not for the general internet public.
Since horizontal websites are not universally embraced by the web design community, those who design those kind of sites must live with a hope that they are advancing design and being innovative. They might think that a horizontal website is the new black.
Technology advance, designers create and users adapt. Maybe one day, the same will happen with horizontal websites. Touch-enabled devices like smartphones and especially iPad apps has made «swiping» a familiar user experience to most people. But swiping through views on an iPad, in an application is not the same as horizontal scrolling and does not provide the same delicious user experience.
So, this was my opinion and arguments against horizontal websites. Feel free to argue!