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The problem with scroll jacking is not a technical one, it’s about expectations. You jacked my scroll bro

Motion in design is theatre. It predates movies and film. It is the playing out of actors on a stage. The focus of your attention on movement when rest was expected. A man holds his hands in the air, the fingers on his left hand twitch and twiddle, which hand are you looking at — the left of course.

Movement can be conveyed in visual language on a two dimensional surface through diagonals, or pressures of space, but brought to life, film and video movement takes on a new dimension, and a new engagement with the audience. Now movement has time.

Movement with interaction is one important step different. It involves my engagement in the movement. My engagement comes with expectation. If I tap or click I expect reaction. I expect the reaction immediately, not delayed by 1 second. This is the natural order of things. We live in a physical reality where if I push a malleable object I can expect it to move according to it’s mass and weight in the general direction I exerted force.

Great expectations for consistency

When I press the accelerator pedal in a car I expect the car to move according to the pressure I give it. If it’s my first drive of this particular car then I might be a little more careful with the gas before I decide to hammer it. Herein lays the real difficulty with scroll jacking and the responsibility of the designer to wield the tool carefully.

Every site we visit is like driving a different car. We use patterns and consistency in our interaction design so that our customers can experience consistent results.

The speed of the scroll experience is the most important to maintain while the movement of objects in a view may change in delightful ways — so long as it doesn’t effect the core purpose of the scroll.

When you scrolljack you are taking the memory of how acceleration works. We mean to gently move forward, but instead we are rocketed through the content and taken to a new place — an unexpected place.

Surprise is best left to delight.

The best interactions in design exceed our expectations and produce enjoyment that serves the customer. I remember the first time I sat in a BMW in the evening and closed the door. The lights dimmed rather than cut off immediately. It was a change in expectations, but it exceeded them. It was relaxing rather than stark. It didn’t change my life. I just thought, “damn, that’s what makes it a BMW”. The way the lights interact with the shutting of a door isn’t crucial to in a car like acceleration is, so there is more allowance for play in the interaction.

I value innovation, and I’m stoked to see what people do to try and find that moment when doing something unique with scrolling and the environment around them is not jolting, but delightful.

Matthew Smith Mar 5, 2014