Finish That Article

Designing a better reading experience for mobile.

Design Thoughts

Whiling away on your twitter stream, you find an interesting link to read. A simple click opens it up; almost like a gentle push to open up a window. After couple of seconds, you see the content in front of you; but a thought crosses your mind; how much do I have to read?. Can I finish this article now?. Brushing off those thoughts, you start reading the article. A gentle scroll reveals more content which after a while becomes a bit tiresome. At that moment a second thought crosses your mind; whats the end of it.? Should I just bookmark it and come back later. But you won’t remember where you left it and you would have to start over again. And that’s probably the end of it; you’ll either bookmark it to come back later at some point in future when it might just become irrelevant or you just leave it getting discouraged by the long length of article. This experience is what we get on mobile as of now and to say that it does the job for the user would be an overstatement. A user wants to read the whole article and its not helping him to achieve that any better. What we need is an experience which helps the user to read and finish the article and not frustrate him/her. When we see the problems faced above; there are two strategies which can solve them and improve the experience in a big way.


If a user sees a never ending page which he has to scroll till he suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome he is bound to get discouraged and leave. What we need is a way to comprehend the length of the article and also read one part at a time. Certainty is one of the domains in the SCARF model proposed by David Rock which tries to understand the way we have interactions . If we are more certain about our future, which in this case is the amount of content we have to read, our mind will be in a better shape to work. As such if we can divide our article into different pages and make the user read one page at a time, we will achieve the same effect. It will help the user to know how many pages are there and how many are left. The image below shows a similar experience in Voyage; a news reading app.


Mobile is with us everywhere we go. As such the probability that we will be disturbed or distracted by someone or something when we are reading on mobile is pretty high. Getting distracted almost seems inevitable and instead of trying to fix the impossible we should try to take it into account while we are designing an experience. A simple way which allows the user to come back to the article if he leaves mid way should solve this problem. Even better would be to continue from the same position where he left so that the user doesnt have to start over. The page implementation discussed helps us to achieve this usecase by bookmarking the article at the page user is currently on. If he opens the article again, the same page will open up. An image below shows the same experience in Voyage.

Reading on mobile has his share of opportunities and constraints. We should design a reading experience keeping those in mind trying to take advantage of the opportunities and tackling the constraints with the right design.

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