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If a story’s worth reading… let your readers read it

Nobody likes to be interrupted, so why is that so many online articles come full of, err, interruptions.

By James Evelegh

If a story’s worth reading… let your readers read it

Some publishers seem to have lost sight of the reader experience when building their digital offerings. They shoehorn an incredible number of ads and messages into articles, making the reader experience a thoroughly disjointed affair.

This is obviously particularly an issue with ad-funded sites.

I was reading a story on my phone yesterday from a news site about the sad drowning of two teenagers at a local beauty spot.

There were eleven interruptions within this one article – seven of them advertisements, four of them panels from the publisher offering me the opportunity to search for other local news / add comments / find similar articles etc.

In at least three instances, the gaps between the interruptions were five lines of text or less.

Any reader getting to the end of the story deserves a medal.

We recently ran an excellent article by Alan Hunter on improving the online reading experience, which is well worth reading.

Alan advises publishers to “put as little in the way of their reading experience as possible. Try not to break the flow of scanning an article.”

He says that publishers should “prioritise a clean reading experience”.

“You should think carefully about whether your interruption of the reader is worthwhile, whatever it is.”

Of course, ad-funded models need ads, but it’s a good idea to regularly review the positioning and frequency of interruptions. If you are delivering an abysmal reading experience, then it’s only a matter of time before readers stop reading and that’ll be the end of the road, ads or no ads.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.