Why designers hate the article progress bar
As sites push out more and more content of varying length, some are thinking up new ways to give readers a better idea of what they’re getting into. For some, such as Bloomberg and The Daily Beast, this thinking has led to their implementation of article progress bars, which let readers know in real time how much they’ve read — and how much farther they have to go.
The logic for the move is straightforward: By giving readers more information about how long a given article is, publishers put readers in the driver’s seat. But designers have their own opinions.
“It’s a neat feature, but it doesn’t make sense on blog posts or most digital content. Unless you use it for long-form stories, it just winds up being distracting,” he said, adding that publishers should avoid using the feature across all of their articles. He said that Hard Candy Shell has “blacklisted” the feature and pushes back against clients who request it.
Designers say that the progress bar is similar to features such as the hamburger menu and infinite scroll, which publishers often adopt because they see them elsewhere, not because the features make sense within their strategy or for their audience.
Bloomberg, which added the progress bar as part of its January redesign, uses the feature for the majority of its articles, including its shorter news stories and longer features, on both desktop and mobile. It has also incorporated it into a March feature about a Seattle tunnel drill, which featured an animated drill that progresses as readers scroll down. At the Daily Beast, the feature is used to help readers keep track of their progress as they move down the site’s continuous scroll.
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