According to Slate, you won’t finish reading this.

Slate posted an article (which I didn’t finish reading) about how few people finish reading an article online before “bouncing” (leaving without reading anything) or heading off to comment before they are finished. They are making three assumptions I’d like to call out:

* They assume their articles are worth finishing
* They assume that everyone who landed on their article did so intentionally
* They assume that the actual primary goal of their site is for people to read the content.

Not Worth Finishing

Some sites suffer from poor writing, uninteresting content, incorrect information, or as in the case of the article I’m referencing, being (by design) an incoherent rant.

Write with excellence (unlike me) about important things. Get your facts straight. Only write if you have something meaningful to contribute to the world. Burn your arbitrary articles-per-day quota, and you’ll see higher engagement.

These Aren’t The Articles You’re Looking For

People don’t browse the Internet aimlessly devouring whatever you pump out. They are searching for something. They know when they’ve found it and when they haven’t. The “bounce” statistic says less about your users and more about your site’s content. They weren’t looking for your article.

Your Primary Goal Isn’t To Have Your Content Read

Or it doesn’t seem that way from your site’s design! Pictures, advertisements, “related” articles, and sharing tools dominate most media sites like Slate. These things SCREAM at me the entire time I’m attempting to read your article. Eventually I give up and leave. This has less to do with the nature of the Internet and more to do with your company’s revenue goals, which apparently have little to do with people reading your content.

If you want to find out whether people will actually read your content, design your site in such a way that emphasizes content and deemphasizes the periphery.





One response to “According to Slate, you won’t finish reading this.”

  1. Jesse Gardner Avatar

    So weird. I started a blog post this morning and the first sentence I wrote was, “You probably won’t make it past this first sentence.”

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