Pagination in articles – what’s the point?

“I hate pagination in articles”. This small note existed as a draft post for a few months now, waiting to be properly written.

A few days ago, while researching a subject, I was annoyed when I ended up reading a series of paginated articles, each of them on another website, with a quite poor pagination implementation. Consequently, I decided to write the article.

Pagination in articles reminds me of a printed newspaper, where there are space constraints that makes you have to turn pages to read the longer articles. But, in my opinion, paginated articles on the web offer nothing of value to the user. At least not in the way they are implemented most of the times.

Usually, pagination is implemented in a way that favourites only the website where the article is published. How? By providing more pageviews. At least this is the theory behind it, because in practice it has the potential of driving a lot of people like me away. That’s all; I really can’t find any other advantages, either for the user, or for the website.

Most importantly, I cannot really see a benefit for the user, who has to do the following to read the next page of an article:

  1. click;
  2. wait for the page to load;
  3. and, finally, scroll down to find the article (since usually there is not an automatic focus at the beginning of the content).

The worst of all (which happens quite often to me) is when you need to go a few pages back and read again a part that you read before. It’s a complete mess, and that’s when I usually give up and leave the page.

Even if I don’t give up and continue to read the whole article, all the above make me lose my coherence while reading. I find it extremely easier and convenient to scroll down while reading, the way we’ve been doing it for several years. Let alone it helps in printing (if there is no print view) and possibly in sharing. To be honest, I’ve never printed an article from a website, but it’s still a valid case.

Although I find pagination in articles unnecessary and distracting, that probably isn’t the case for everyone. So, if you are going to implement a pagination system, then please try to make it user friendly.

For example, you can load all the article in one page, and “break” it into pages afterwards, using JavaScript. The general concept of pagination won’t change, but at least you’ll solve some of the above issues.

This way it is very easy to implement a “switch to complete view” solution, so people can use it without even having to reload the page. Something like that (click on the button to switch views).

Finally, after the page is changed, focus on the beginning of the content to minimise the distraction for the reader.

Photo by lucydphoto