Breaking Pages on the Web

By Deane Barker on October 10, 2006

User experience f*ck-up: the New Yorker is splitting up their longer pieces into multiple pages: Kottke is profanely upset that the New York Times is now splitting its stories up into multiple pages (though I think they’re been doing this for some time now).

I know, everyone else does it and it’s some sort of “best practice” that we readers let them get away with so they can boost pageviews and advertising revenue at the expense of user experience, but The New Yorker was the last bastion of good behavior on this issue and I loved them for it.

He points to a great blog called “Architectures of Control in Design” (which I’ve been coincidentally reading for about a week) which says:

I can see that psychologically, an article which looks shorter may be glanced at by a casual reader — who may then become interested enough to continue — whereas one which looks longer may be ignored completely. This may be an additional explanation to the ‘increase page views therefore advertising revenue’ intention.

So long as they have a “Printer Friendly” page, then I don’t mind, because I can always use that. But about 18 months ago, I theorized on this ethics of it:

When you link directly to an image on someone else’s site, you use their content without exposing anyone to their advertising model or any navigation so that the person you sent there can explore the site. Printer-friendly pages, however, are a lot like direct image links in that there’s (usually) no advertising and there’s no navigation on the page.

That sounds a little silly now, but it’s an interesting thought.

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