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What are some of the better UX techniques to deal with really long static content pages? We are talking about 4-5 printed pages on a single URL of a site (meaning that if you were to print these content pages, the length of its content would amount to/fill four to five 8 1/2x11 page papers).

This would have to be for desktop and mobile readability as well.

Long content page example would be an enrollment requirement page for a collegiate program. On such a page, you would find the following categories (with two to five paragraphs per category):

  • Prerequisite Courses
  • Admissions Requirements
  • Competitive Candidate Statistics
  • FAQs
  • Application preparation

I have no control over content structure and/or navigation. The most I can do is to provide a display for data that is in a well formatted and legible way; without having the user to scroll to infinity.

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I'm confused about why you reference a "pull to refresh" library when you're talking about static content (which, by definition, doesn't change rapidly)? –  Joshua Barron Jul 31 '13 at 20:44
    
@JoshuaBarron - The way I assume this to work is to concatenate X-pixel length and as the user "pull to refresh," it will load the next set of content and so forth. You are correct, as the term "pull to refresh" does not apply as these are all static content. –  Jerry Huang Jul 31 '13 at 20:49
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It would be helpful if you mentioned what the actual "content" is. Also, who is this meant for? Because right now, you're basically saying, I have a lot of stuff, what do I do? –  Chris N. Jul 31 '13 at 20:57
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@ChrisN. More content added to original question. Thank you. –  Jerry Huang Jul 31 '13 at 21:10
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@JerryHuang This doesn't seem like a UX question to be honest with you. Basically you're asking how to layout text. As long as the heirarchy is well established and the text size has good contrast and legible, I don't see what else you can really do. Stackexchange's privacy policy might be a good example: stackexchange.com/legal/privacy-policy –  Chris N. Jul 31 '13 at 21:23
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3 Answers

It is not clear to me what you have available as options for changing the content presentation, but here are a few things you could try.

  • Collapsible Sections
  • A Table of Contents before the main body of the content (with each section linked) for a page's content

You still need to follow standards for good type layout, including font size, line-height, and line-length. See Typography in Ten Minutes for some ideas if you'd like.


Also, don't worry too much about scrolling. Some say that scrolling is the new click.

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Unless you are certain that users will want to plod through the entire page and read everything on it, I would stay away from breaking it up into pages.

The number one reason to keep it all on a page is not to break text search.

If the content were clearly differentiable into different kinds of content, meaning a user would know which of the different pages they would need to search on for anything they might want to find, then pages might be OK, but that would be the exception, and you probably would not be asking this question if it were true here.

If you want some structure while keeping like things on a page, links to different headings on the page as a mini table of contents (at or near the top of the page...certainly within the area visible before any scrolling) is a great way to accomplish that.

If you want some structure while keeping like things on a page, and there are no good headings in the content, adding meaningful headings would enable the structure and make the content more readable (not just a wall of text). (...and if you can't even generate new, meaningful headings, then as a worst-case option you can at least break the text into arbitrary sections (which is what would be happening in the pagination case anyway) on the same page and give them generic numbered headings, and again link to the different headings.)

Note that the desire not to break text search is also an argument against having the page load a bit at a time as scolling happens.

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My suggestion would be to provide a bullet point overview of what is contained in each section of the articles.

This then reduces the likelihood of forcing the user to read large chunks of content/wasting time.

Or provide an in-page search functionality so users can "search" to look for keywords. If that's not possible, you could provide anchor links to the most popular areas and build this out over time.

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