Ever wonder why, when reading website articles on your smartphone, you only get to see a paragraph or two and then there’s a “Read More” button that you have to tap to uncover the rest of the article? I sure have.
It’s one of those things that kind of annoys me but isn’t really a big enough deal to dissuade me from carrying on with reading the rest of the piece but still annoying enough to make me want to look into it. So I did.
After some quick research, I found quite a few reasons a website would use a “Read More” button and the reason will most likely vary from site to site.
One reason for a content-covering button is advertising dollars. Websites that get more clicks are worth more money to advertisers. Clicking on those buttons count as more clicks, and also has the possibility of reloading ads on the page while extending the page and loading even more ads. So. Many. Ads.
Another possibility is avoiding “content scrapers,” or robots that will steal the content of a site and post it elsewhere without giving credit or compensation to the creator. Buttons ensure these digital jerks only have access to a small amount of content.
One benevolent reason to initially hide content is for the sake of your precious data. Not everyone has the bucks for one of those unlimited data phone plans (myself included) so some sites restrict the initial load until you’re sure you would like to proceed with downloading all of the content. This also results in faster loading times, which is kind of a nice byproduct.
It can also be handy for longer articles to only half-load in case the content isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. This will allow you to scroll right on down to the suggested articles below the main article on the page. Especially nice if you are partial to getting your info from one particular website.
Another back-end use for “Read More” buttons is to give site administrators more information about which articles are getting the most reads so they know better what their users are interested in.
There truly are many reasons for the mildly inconvenient buttons and whether or not the reasoning behind the usage is for the reader’s benefit or to pad advertising numbers will never be clear. There’s one thing we know for sure though, I have an extraordinary infatuation with knowing why things are the way they are, even if it’s not a big deal.
Anyway, if you run across anything in the wide world of tech that makes you stop and ask “but why?” Let me know about it and maybe we can get to the bottom of it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org