Reading Progress Bar

by Su Yang

Many websites that publish content (e.g. Hubspot’s blog) now feature a reading progress bar that signals how much of the article is left. The progress bar is dynamically updated as the user scrolls through the page, filling up once the user reaches the end of the article.

This feature is particularly nice for readers in a time crunch and prevents users from having to scroll through the entire article to see how long it is. It’s also a useful tool when skimming. However, because it’s a constant reminder of the length of the content, it can also be a distraction and detract from the story being told or information being conveyed.

The previous review focused on the reading progress bar on Harvard Business Review’s website, which has since been removed. However, the discussion is still applicable to the progress bars on many other article-heavy websites.

Previous Review:
A feature I have found becoming popular on many blogging websites (like Medium for example) is the read length of articles in minutes displayed at the beginning besides the author and date. It is effective in most situations to make a tedious homework reading seem shorter than you might have thought, but also a good heads up that an article in full might be longer than you have time for. I find it as a good motivator that an article is of manageable length. However, the HBR went one step further with an active progress bar that sits at the top of the page and progress like a loading bar as you move down the page. The only thing is that it is design to measure your position on the entire page, rather than the article text itself, so you end up finishing the read before the progress bar completes.

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