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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?)

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    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. – obelia Aug 12 '15 at 23:50
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    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. – Elias Zamaria Aug 14 '15 at 23:18
  • 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. – user83050 May 31 '16 at 19:53
  • @obelia: The link usually just reveals the text that has already been downloaded, which doesn't save bandwidth. – SabreWolfy Dec 6 '16 at 16:08
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There are a few reasons:

  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.

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    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. – TimE Jun 19 '17 at 20:06
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So the chosen answer, while good, is incorrect as regards this particular screenshot.

I am actually responsible for implementing the button in the screen shot. I can't speak for every site but I can say that the thought process (as far as I know) is basically the 3rd option given by tohster.

QZ only shows the read full button when you navigate directly to an article from an outside source (i.e. facebook or twitter). This is because you most likely only know the title and maybe a tiny bit more about the article. Once you arrive you are shown the first couple paragraphs and given the option to keep reading. If however you decided you aren't interested in reading the rest of it you can keep scrolling and get to other content that may be of interest. If you were to visit the home page then click an article you won't see that button.

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    Side note our "read full story" button does not reload the page. It just expands the content that is already there so it's not some trick to get more ad views. – lupos Aug 13 '15 at 16:39
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    you have to understand this site is for GENERAL answers, not site specific answers, and obviously I don't know why you decided to do something specific on some specific site. Glad to know the exact answer for this specific case, because it helps to the whole answer and enriches everything, but my answer is 100% about general purposes and theory behind implementation. Also, I always answer with things I can document with an external source to avoid "because I say so" answers. If I have additional information (like in this case) I add it as an additional source, never as the main answer. – Devin Aug 14 '15 at 20:01
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    As I said (and have now clarified) your answer is good and thorough and very useful. However it did not actually cover the one case for which this particular screen shot was implemented. tohstar actually hit on our particular thinking with their 3rd option. I did consider just adding my info as a reply to their answer since they hit on it. That being said this is not a question with any single definitive answer. The poster determined your response to be the best which is fine but I felt I had enough to add to warrant a separate post. – lupos Aug 14 '15 at 21:28
  • If you read the first case I mention and the comment I did to jonW, you'll see your case is covered as well. – Devin Aug 15 '15 at 15:16
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    in quartzs case you would have to scroll past the "read more" and an ad to click another article so its almost def not an accident. Though I'm sure there are some. I personally don't do it a lot but i have done it on other sites. It's hard some times when doing UX to not just think about what we would want/do. A/B test all the things! – lupos Mar 28 '17 at 16:02
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Quite the opposite, there are several good reasons to do it. Take a look to this article (I don't fully agree with all of it, but you'll get the gist of it)

They are important for several reasons, most importantly because they allow designers to compress content on the home page. By compressing content, you fit more content in less space. This means that readers can scan headlines more quickly and that you can fit more information above the fold.

Also, “Read more” links allow website administrators to more easily track the most popular content. Designers who put entire articles on the home page may make it difficult for website administrators to track the most popular articles and understand what users want to see.

The third and probably most practical reason for having “Read more” links on a website is money. Websites that monetize traffic understand that the more their readers click on links, the more likely they will look at and click on advertisements. “Read more” links can double or even triple the number of page views a website receives, making it more attractive to advertisers.

As per your remark

Making someone tap a button to continue browsing your site seems like a good way to lose their interest

you should take a look at this reading about UX myths.

Finally, the word "more" is really powerful in several aspects, basically you're telling your users they will get a bigger amount of something good (if they choose to read the article) or if ignored, you know the user won't want more of that. Either way, you can track and measure user expectation VS site owner expectation and adjust accordingly

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    This may be true for article snippets on the home page, but I think the OP is referring to when these links are used on the article pages themselves. The user has already chosen the article they wish to read, but can only do so for a few paragraphs before having to View More to see it all. – JonW Aug 12 '15 at 22:50
  • As a matter of fact, you still track on inner pages and measure how effective your titles and excerpts are and how much engagement you get. This kind of approach is very common with marketers who base their strategies in copy, and a great way to fine tune while avoiding user's friction. A good example is the link the OP added: open it in a desktop, and you will see a full article since you have no limitations. Open it on mobile, and you'll have a restricted version which you'll read only if interested (hence why I added the final paragraph). – Devin Aug 12 '15 at 23:03
  • In the case of "money" or forcing a subscription: this is called "putting up a paywall." The user gets to see a certain amount of content, then they hit the wall where they must pay. Here's what Wikipedia says about it: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paywall – JeromeR Aug 12 '15 at 23:08
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    @JeromeR, you're correct, but I don't think the article I was quoting was referring to Paywalls, I think they're aiming to user behavior and the chances that this user that clicks a "READ MORE" button will probably be more willing to click an ad (which as far as I can tell from my own research, tends to be true, although not bullet proof). At least that's what I get from the article. Nevertheless, you're correct on this – Devin Aug 14 '15 at 0:00
  • The guy who says he implemented the button in question (@lupos) also says the nominated "correct answer" is partially correct. Way to go, Devin! – JeromeR Aug 14 '15 at 6:34
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Why do designers do this?

Concealing information in this manner helps designers display content in a way that's manageable and complies with relevant theories on how users seek/consume content.

Is it good UX?
Yes, see: Information scent

Studies show that users will continue to search (read: click through) for information that is more rewarding than it is effort.

Using the very recognised 'way animals hunt in the wild' analogy to describe information foraging, users are looking for a nutritious meal that's easy to catch.

A read more button lets the user know that there's an abundance of juicy calories waiting to be consumed, whilst also indicating that it's only one click away.

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    I would disagree with this I'm afraid. It's fair enough to provide information scents to help people find what they're looking for, but once they hit the actual detail page then you would assume they have found what they're looking for - that's why they arrived at that page. Sticking in a 'read more' link on that same page doesn't seem to help them find info they've already located. It's like buying some shoes, taking them out the box and finding there's only one in there and you then have to ask the assistant to give you the other one. It's an extra unnecessary step. – JonW Aug 18 '15 at 12:00
  • The only place where not restricting the volume of information displayed would make sense is if it is the only piece of information available to read. In context with your analogy it's actually like finding a shoe shop, choosing a type of shoe, then personally wanting to check the manufacturers manifesto on the ethics behind this shoe. The alternative would be to select the store and choose a shoe from a rack ten times as big because shoe are displayed with their entire manifesto (which only you are interested in). One more click is rarely a problem so long as the narrative/scent is there. – Sam B Elliott Aug 18 '15 at 14:23
  • @SamBElliott perhaps a food-related analogy would be better. "Sticking in a 'read more' link on that same page doesn't seem to help them find info they've already located. It's like finding one apple atop a crate with a combination lock and a sign saying "Combination: 1234". Across the street is a pile of apples with no crate (another site without "read more" buttons on its articles). It's an extra unnecessary step." – Dan Henderson May 30 '16 at 15:22
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As a PO I was responsible to launch the button on a German news website. The reason was: direct inflow shifted from the homepage to the article page. Mainly due to search engine and social media inflow. As a result a lot of users don't visit the homepage anymore and see which other article the website has. The (mobile) article page has to do the job and show other articles. Due to the smaller viewport the toggle is necessary - without the the toggle, the related articles would be at the botton of the page. Goals metrics: reduce bounce rate and increase time on site.

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Another reason for a Read More button is to allow the site to show an advert within the body of the article without creating a "false floor", which may lead users on mobile devices to erroneously believe the article to have ended.

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/ad-placement-mobile/

protected by Community Nov 21 '16 at 17:04

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