Friday, August 31st, 2007

Long Pages Work!

Category: Editorial

<p>Peter Van Dijck thinks that long pages work and he points to Wikipedia and pages like this as proof.

The content + a lot of comments world can definitely make sense. You can use Cmd+F to hunt around, and the main content is still at the top.

We have in the past been obsessed with “above the fold” and “page views are king”. It is really painful when you still see articles split into short chunks, and it leads me to find the “printer friendly” page in very short order.

The iPhone is also showing that scrolling is a nice UI tool, especially when you have lists. The auto-keep-scrolling technique works really well on the phone.

We shouldn’t get complacent though, there is a reason why you see heat graphs showing where users click, and if they can’t see it, they don’t know it’s there.

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It all depends…

Comment by Matt K — August 31, 2007

Long pages with lots of subheadings work, because they allow you to skim by heading. Long pages with sheer blank prose do not work.

Comment by leonsp — August 31, 2007

I think the best way is in the middle – without refreshing page, but paged and done with Ajax. I would love this way :)

Comment by Nik Chankov — August 31, 2007

work for what?

Often you can improve SEO by chunking a long article into multiple pages.

If you are selling CPM ads, more pages equal more money.

Comment by dan — August 31, 2007

Yep. They don’t chunk the pages because of scrolling. They do it because they can get more advertising on the article. It’s all about money, not about usability.

Comment by Phill Kenoyer — August 31, 2007

It has to do with the type of content being offered. An encyclopedia where every article was a sentence or two long probably wouldn’t do very well.

Comment by GregoryD — August 31, 2007

I’m so glad we’re starting to get over the scrollbar phobia. Making long articles hard to search/scan through and being stingy with whitespace are far greater sins.

Comment by Andrew Clarke — August 31, 2007

The default WordPress theme works!

Comment by Andy Ford — August 31, 2007

I definitely agree with that ! I hate to click those “next” links, or see the following here, etc…
By the way, if u do a solution in ajax (for instance to show comments), you won’t be able to search a string within the browser.

Comment by Piero — August 31, 2007

I think that the biggest reason that the fold matters less than it has in the past is the integration of the scroll wheel into the mouse. This single invention allows people to slide up and down your site without having to move over to the scroll bar and back again. Interacting with the scroll bar is a horrible user interface experience in my opinion because the user has to move their attention away from what they are reading move the scroll bar and then find where they were on the page again. You don’t have this problem with the scroll wheel because you can track the position you are reading while you use it.

Comment by Owen Stenseth — August 31, 2007

I don’t really mind the Next links much anymore, but only since I installed repaginator for FireFox. It lets me combine multiple pages into a single page.

I think some of the “break up the page” conventional wisdom developed during the days of dial-up. You could have the user wait forever for your long article to download and risk them hitting the Stop button. Alternatively, you could break up the article and get them hooked on some of the article quicker. With broadband, this isn’t as big of an issue.

Comment by Jason Levine — August 31, 2007

Yeah, they work GREAT when I’m surfing the web from my 2G mobile phone!

Seriously, though, I think what an earlier poster said applies: it depends. Not only on the content, but on your audience. The worst experience I’ve ever had was trying to look up a product on Amazon.com from my phone. It would be faster to drive home, turn on my computer, find it there, then go back to wherever I was before.

Pages shouldn’t be designed for low-bandwidth users, but they should allow themselves to be ADAPTED to said users. How that’s done — server-side filtering, alternate URL, mobile proxy server — is less relevant.

Keith

Comment by Keith — August 31, 2007

This “declaration” does not provide any validity in long pages. Is a book just one page?

You can provide clearly defined headings. But it is not enough. The concept of breaking down pages stemmed from research where users complained of too much text in one page. A usable factor of breaking down a web page into multiple pages is bookmarking. The reasoning of multiple pages is not only down to the fact of slow connections.

I don’t particularly see how Ajax will work as it will break the search facility. It is the duty of of web designers and developers to produce sites with accessibility and usability in mind. Despite what you think, money is not the reasoning behind this, but usability.

Comment by Shahid Shah — September 3, 2007

Long pages work, but it’s always nice to have a short URL with http://www.shrinkm.com for many reasons.

Comment by james — November 3, 2007

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