I started to learn web development in art school, but switched to app development instead for various reasons.

I've noticed more and more lately websites on my phone will split up an article into several pages and put like 3 sentences per page. It's very frustrating and at least for me I just find another site even if that other site is less known.

Another thing I've seen more of is putting 1/2 a paragraph of the article and the rest is below the fold under a "tap to continue " button.

I was taught to never deny access to the user, and to me both those things are just that.

So my question I guess is...are the reasons for these 2 annoyances a technical thing (it's easier to load smaller amount of data etc) or is it a design thing?

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    More clicks = more ad revenue – Roman Reiner Jan 27 '17 at 5:36
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    As Roman (above) says, this is most likely to be about serving more ad views per article - If they can split an article across three pages then they can get three times as many ad views and therefore generate three times as much revenue for one article. – Andrew Martin Jan 27 '17 at 8:43
  • The seemingly arbitrary pagination of articles is definitely revenue related. That said, I suspect the "tap to continue" is an attempt by vendors to determine whether users are really reading all the content on the page or just skimming for statistics purposes. You tend to see this on a number of struggling newspapers' webpages. You could use scripts to determine where the user is in the page scroll-wise, but I think this way they know for sure you actually want to read the content that's on the page and aren't just cruising. – TernaryTopiary Jan 27 '17 at 9:03
  • Your complaint is an issue brought up, time and again, by experts in the user experience field who state, as you have, that such things drive users away and actually defeat what the site is trying to accomplish...more users for more ad revenue. – Rob Jan 27 '17 at 11:03
  • @Rob, this is how we end up with so many bad clickbait headlines and subheadings that keep us clicking ("You won't believe slide 14!"). Unfortunately it doesn't currently look like there's a way to unite extreme monetisation with good user experience. – Andrew Martin Jan 27 '17 at 15:48

They primarily do this for more ad revenue, by increasing your time in the page and thus their stickiness. They also enable you to see multiple ads each time you click next. Some of the worst offenders have ads in button looking blocks where you can't easily figure out where the continue / next page button is and you accidentally click on an ads link because it looks like a button.

In short I think such an experience is pretty poor for the user.

how do you maximize your ad revenue while maintaining an agreeable user experience? One strategy that I like is the following. You can ask them at the top to see on one page or view on multiple pages. When they view it on one page you will just place the ads between the content, so there will be excessive scrolling but it seems to be less detrimental than 12 click to the next slide links.

Also don't think you are fooling anyone by making pages that are pagination over multiple pages for more ads. I think business insider often does this and if you look at their articles on social media the first comment that is updated the most will be a user who summed up your article. I.e. Here are the top 5 colleges with great human computer interaction programs. So now people come to expect a poor experience from you and don't even click on your article and just look for another users summary of it.

Facebook and a few other players have identified the problem and are working towards standardized article formats. Facebooks Instant articles seems to be one approach to combat this. read more about Facebook Instant articles here

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Why would a website’s creators ignore the sound UX principle of getting a user to the content they want as quickly as possible?

Maximizing page views (UX be damned) is common practice for “MFA” sites

Websites that exist for the sole purpose (or preeminent purpose) of generating ad revenue from views and clicks are sometimes called Made-for-Adsense (MFA) sites.

onlinewritingjobs.com defines an MFA site as follows:

An MFA or Made for Adsense site is a site created specifically with the intent to make money from advertisements. These pages are often specifically created around Adsense keywords and are generally poor in quality. If they have any content at all, it is usually outweighed by the overwhelming number of ads on the pages. Even when an MFA site does have content, it is usually not original and is copied or “scraped” from another site.

In an MFA site, content is there only to serve the purpose of driving ad views and clicks. Does this sound like the sites you are referring to?

(Note that the above definition is a little dated, as many sites like this now focus more on getting shared on social media rather than getting into the Google SERPs.)

If a site has no raison d'etre, no real mission or vision beyond generating ad revenue (this month) then forcing the user to click and click to see what they want can make sense there. It doesn’t matter much if users hate your site and it gets a bad reputation — you can always just buy a new domain and implement the same model again there.

Metrics-driven decision making can also be to blame

If a web team’s compensation (or continued employment) is tied to a website’s page view metrics, it can be a sound personal, economic decision (at least in the short term) for them to break up content into more pages than the user would prefer.

It’s just plain bad UX

At the risk of being pedantic, the takeaway is: if you want users actually to like your brand and use your site, don’t follow the example of those MFA sites.

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I'll be going in to the splitting up of articles in to many pages, which seems to be your main question. A single 'read the rest' interstitial page has subtly different uses.

Anyway, why split up an article in a dozen bits? It's to get higher "engagement".

Yes you can put an ad on each sub-page, but you can also put an ad in between each paragraph on one longer page. So for amount of ads it's not important.

However, if you have to load, scroll, tap next page, etc for 10 times, you will have spent more time in total on the article, than if you load all at once and scroll past 10, 9, 8 etc all the way to 1.

It also means you click through on their site 10 times, instead of looking at 1 page and then bouncing back to google or where ever you came from.

It makes the site feel more interactive. Instead of reading 500 whole words after another, you read 50 and then you do something small. This keeps those with small attention spans interested longer.

If you have to press a button to keep reading, there is a chance you'll actually tap an ad, which boosts their click through rate. When you don't have to tap within the page, but can use your phones back button, that chance is much smaller.

In short, people aren't actually more engaged with the content, but the metrics look like they are because it takes more time.

Why do this? Because the longer people spend on your site, the more valuable your site is perceived, and the higher you can charge for ads.

There are some advantages which likely are side effects, but still benefit the site;

  • It makes it much easier to see where a user decides they're no longer interested compared to more advanced solutions like scripts that check how for you've scrolled.

  • It saves data, which makes the site load faster. At least initially; in the end you'll use up more data because of loading redundant information 9 times. But the faster a site is perceived, the less people will bounce away from it.

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a summary of a few of the reasons:

  • These types of pages often rely on content that people want to read until the end (beacause of prior knowledge of what's in the article). (clickbait: "You won't believe slide 14!")
  • using just one paragraph and a photo leaves room for adds and an add makes revenue every time it's loaded, clicking through 20 pages is 20 times more revenue.
  • This style makes for a way to include pictures after every paragraph/sentence so that the people "reading" aren't actually reading and no writing talent is required to keep the article interesting.
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