Mitch Joel at Twist Image has an interesting post up about his annoyance at multipage articles on websites. His annoyance stems from the fact that this practice often exists simply so that sites can increase their pageviews (and thus ad impressions) and pages per visitor.
So, why do magazine and newspaper Websites continue this terrible user experience of having to click through multiple web pages to read a 750 word article?
Is it possible that those two extra clicks of the mouse generate enough page impressions and banner ads served that it’s worth the frustration to their readers? The answer must be yes.
Guilty as charged – who doesn’t want to help out their stats, and who isn’t under pressure to increase ad impressions? Multipage content (slideshows are often an extension of this in a lot of cases) can be a good way to increase pages per visitor, and therefore demonstrate higher user engagement.
But…it isn’t just about the impressions. Michelle Evans notes in the comments that multipage articles are a good way of gauging user engagement – you can tell in your analytics software how many people clicked through to the next page. And Lorenzo says that he likes multiple pages on long articles as it gives him a sense of progression. (I’d have to agree.)
My take as a reader? Clicking through multiple pages a paragraph at a time is overkill. But for longer content, I’m happy to do it and even sometimes welcome it. And if this is what it takes for online media to make money at this stage in the game, then fine – I prefer it over a) invasive ads (strange floating popups, I’m talking to you) and b) pay walls.
My take as a web editor? I hesitate to put up really long articles in one page. It just seems strange, like the reader will get lost. And yes, I do like to see how many people click through multiple pages in content.
What do you think?