What's the point of a "Read full story" button?

  • I've noticed a lot of news websites, particularly on mobile, sometimes will cut off their story with a button you have to click to see the rest of it. I can understand why they'd do this if they wanted to make you pay for the rest of the article or shove an ad in your face, but sometimes the button just shows the story and does nothing else.

    Here's an example of an article that does this on mobile.

    Here's a screenshot of the relevant part of that site.

    To me, this seems like a really bad user experience. Making someone tap a button to continue browsing your site seems like a good way to lose their interest. Is there some hidden value in this interface design choice? Or does it serve some unrelated purpose (perhaps for analytics on user engagement?)

    On my desktop computer the link you provided shows the full article, so in this case it must be detecting a mobile device and is conserving bandwidth.

    I agree that this is annoying. I will see a big box thing on my scroll bar, and think that means the thing I am reading is short, then I will see one of those buttons, and click it, and realize that the page is much bigger than I thought.

    It is all a tease. They don't want you to just read. They have to engage you so they can count the clicks. At the end of the day... it's all about the numbers.

    @obelia: The link usually just reveals the text that has already been downloaded, which doesn't save bandwidth.

  • tohster

    tohster Correct answer

    6 years ago

    There are a few reasons:

    (and sites may implement for one, some or all of these)

    1. Robot defense. Content sites (e.g. news sites) sometimes use these buttons to provide a rudimentary defense against content scrapers. By showing only part of the content they prevent scrapers from loading the page and parsing the article. This is obviously very crude, but it is still effective.

    2. Affirmation of user intent. Having a user click Read more provides a valuable confirmation of user's intent. For a site (e.g. news site) with a lot of links in sidebars or below the main article, it can be hard to figure out whether the user is reading the main article or scrolling down the page scanning the links or sidebars. The click isn't the best user experience but for a site providing you with free content, it provides valuable behavioral data for better analytics, ad targeting, etc.

    3. Provide faster access to below-the-article content. There is always a chance that the content isn't relevant to the user and -- for one-page or news sites -- the user will want to scroll below the article to move on. The Read More button allows designers to hide bulk content to provide users with faster access to below-article content (and hopefully less reason to abandon the site before they find relevant content).

    4. Faster page loads. For multimedia-rich content, whole page loads can be very slow. By loading only the top half of the article, the page loads faster. Sites can of course always lazy-load the content below the fold to achieve a similar effect, but designers may still elect not to do this because of the deferred rendering load or for #1 or #2 above.

    None of these reasons is compelling in the general sense (which is why most sites don't do this), but one or more may be important enough to a particular site that designers elect to use the Read More button.

    1. For most of these sites the content is still there in the source, robots don't need to render the page to scrape it they can just pull it directly from the HTML. 2. You can check the scroll position to know how far down the user has gone and how long they stayed there, although clicking a button is an even stronger signal. 4. Again, most of these sites aren't lazy loading the content.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM