Tech writer weighs in on Web design ‘sin’
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/18/2012 -- Breaking up articles and photo galleries into multiple web pages is bad design, even an online “sin” says an online technology expert.
The attraction of multi-page articles is that a website can, theoretically, get more clicks out of a single story. And that means more pages to display ads.
The problem, according to Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist for Slate.com, is that it disrespects readers who want to read an article through to the end. Pagination gets in the way of usability and should have been thrown out with music that automatically plays and text that blinks.
At Slate magazine, articles must be broken up into separate pages if they go over 1,000 words (Manjoo manages his message in under 900).
Many readers and publishers think that multi-page design is the way articles should be, but unfriendly design might not be the best way to grow readership. Articles that are contained on a single page will gain more popularity and be shared more often, to the benefit of the publisher, Manjoo says.
And some readers thwart multi-page design anyway, taking advantage of some sites’ single-page buttons.
A few popular sites, BuzzFeed and the Verge, for example, have done away with multi-page design. Rather than publish slideshows over many pages, BuzzFeed offers scrolling galleries.
At the Verge, advertising staff did not balk at ending pagination.
“From the beginning, there’s been a company-wide belief that we can marry great advertising with great content and not have to cheat or trick our users,” Verge editor Joshua Topolsky told Manjoo. “And so far, that’s proven 100% correct. Our traffic has been on a long climb, and I believe advertisers are really beginning to see the true value in engaged users.”
The way to handle long articles is through better design. Photographs and other visual elements can be used to break up long text, and navigation buttons can offer readers a way to jump to different parts of the article, Manjoo suggests.
It may be worth a try.
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