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I have noticed that on a lot of news web sites that they no longer tend to use a 'click here' or a 'read more' link at the end of teaser text as a call to action. They tend to rely on the Article title to provide the link.

I want to know if this is a general trend for news sections within non-news sites. Removing the extra wording does appeal to me in the sense of 'if it is not necessary then remove it' philosophy. I suppose the question is whether it is deemed necessary.

Anyone for comment?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The main problem with omitting the "Read More" call to action is that users will have to know that there is a full article and than the blurb they read isn't the full thing. On a blog format where a whole paragraph (or two or three!) is shown at a time it may be ambiguous as to whether that's really all there is to the story or if this is a blurb.

The New York Times does a pretty good job of making it clear that A) these are just blurbs and B) the article title is clickable:

enter image description here

NYT's blurbs are so short it's fairly clear there's more to the story, and the nice, blue headlines suggest that they are in fact links (they are) which helps guide users into clicking them to display the whole article. The "Read More" was likely a holdover of both an earlier web (where people might not have been expected to know how links work) and the actual print of newspapers, where front page blurbs often ended with "Full Story on Page X", copy that is no longer necessary. I suspect some times like the NYT might have ditched the Read More text simply because it did feel like a holdover from print.

It's important to note that sometimes the Read More text is more helpful, especially when a single page dynamically displays content via an accordion/carousel menu, such as CNN's Newspulse:

enter image description here

Read More is used as a call to action because clicking there actually expands the story, rather than taking you to another page. It's a nice little cue to how the system works which is good for a system more complicated than a page of normal links. You can click the titles here to "read more" as well though, increasing the clickable area.

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I like this idea Ben. So if you are on a news site or in a clearly labelled news section then the index page is obviously going to refer to full articles and therefore implicit for the users to link off to other pages show more content. If it is not so obvious that there is no article on the page, then use visual hierarchy to highlight links. And if the stories expand on the page itself, you are going to need a call to action. Thanks. Side note: On the above example it may also be the triangle icon next to the 'show details' which gives cue that there is more content. –  Darren Nov 1 '11 at 9:27
    
Yep, if you check Newspulse the triangles are a nice cue indicating that clicking will expand/contract the item –  Ben Brocka Nov 1 '11 at 14:14
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Another important consideration is accessibility (a11y). The use of "Read more…" links is highly discouraged because they are context-less unless you can see the page.

One should, instead, use a more descriptive phrasing like "Read more about X".

See more here:

  1. "FCC Open Developer Day: Open and Accessible — Avoid “read more” Links in your WordPress Blog" from the Yahoo Accessibility Library.
  2. The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
  3. The Web 2.0 Accessibility Forum on LinkedIn (run by a good friend of mine, full of good information).
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I'm not sure whether a read more link is always required, it probably depends on the situation:

When just the title is displayed and it this title is a link I think it's fine to go without.

If you have quite a large amount of text in the teaser text, then it would make sense to have a read more link or similar. As the users will have followed it down the page and arrive at the end. Putting a link here would be less effort than the user having to scroll/navigate back up and click on the title.

So to summarise it depends on the context and if you are unsure user test.

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I would assume that these sites have used some analytics or run some user tests where they monitor which link people look for and use or run some A/B tests on the two options and discovered that more people use the title link than the "read more" link and therefore the latter isn't needed any more.

Another point is that as more people do this, then there won't be the expectation of there being a "read more" link so even less people will use it and so the cycle continues.

It makes sense from a practical point of view as well - there's only one link you need to create and maintain.

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how would you configure analytics if the urls are identical? –  colmcq Oct 31 '11 at 17:04
    
@colmcq - Ah, not sure, but you could make them different URLs for the duration of the test. I know that's potentially harmful, but if done carefully it might work. –  ChrisF Oct 31 '11 at 17:07
    
you could run an A/B test. –  colmcq Nov 1 '11 at 10:01
    
@colmcq - that's what I meant by "user tests". –  ChrisF Nov 1 '11 at 10:23
    
we agree! ...... –  colmcq Nov 1 '11 at 11:00
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Better aproach will be to use custom call to actions for each article and avoid generics. Example: Look at yahoo home page.

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