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Digital Magazine Design Features: Progress Bars, ‘Read More’ Buttons, Ad Blocking

Publishers strive to perfect digital magazine design elements to retain readers and please advertisers

Digital magazine design is evolving nearly as fast as digital magazines themselves, because digital magazine design plays a huge part in defining digital magazines. Publishers continually implement new features to enhance reader experience, increase ad viewability for marketers, and stay current with the shifting demands of the industry.

Design – its theory and execution – has always been important for publications, and now that importance ranks right up there with technology itself. Major redesigns have taken a back seat to periodic tweaks and refreshers that make digital magazines more nimble in audience development.

In recent articles, Digiday covers several trends in digital magazine design. Let’s start there this week!

Is the Article Progress Bar Good for Digital Magazine Design?

If we used an article progress bar, it would show that you’re currently through a quarter of this post. Definitely a neat trick, but is it necessary?

Even as many publishers implement the feature, many designers say no. Some call the progress bar a gimmicky distraction, Digiday reports, and while it can give the reader more control, it may not make sense for all types of content.

Do You Use Truncated Article Pages & ‘Read More’ Buttons?

Another digital magazine design feature that has gained significant traction recently is the “read more” button, which similarly gives readers more control but also offers publishers the opportunity to boost viewability by strategic placement of ads and sponsored content, Digiday reports. The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Quartz all use shortened pages, leaving it up to the reader to expand the content.

“The ‘show full article button’ attempts to turn that around by pushing social readers to other articles that they might be interested in, all in the hopes of keeping them on site. The article line-up varies: The Times designed the feature so that readers who click a sports or health article are more likely to get suggestions for sports and health articles, while general interest stories beget more general interest stories,” Ricardo Bilton writes.

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“Quartz, which also introduced its own ‘read full story’ button alongside its design refresh in June, has used the button to boost the performance of its mobile Engage ads, which appear directly below the button. The Huffington Post uses a similar approach, presenting readers with a 300 x 250 banner ad below its own ‘read more’ button. … The tactic is just one of the many ways publishers are trying to come to terms with the new mobile reality, which has complicated their ability to both retain readers and make money of them. That has forced publishers to cast a more critical eye on every part of the mobile experience, from their suggested stories to ad placement.”

Ad Blocking Continues to Confound, but Is It Better for Readers?

We all know how frustrating ad blocking can be, but Digiday offers up an interesting piece about the tool’s ethical implications. While some publishers cite the ethics of “stealing” revenue by blocking ads, but ethicists say it may have been necessary as the environment for readers has become more an more challenging. Highly recommended article by Bilton!

Are you up on the latest trends in digital magazine design? Download our free Subscription Website Publishing Handbook for more best practices on attracting, retaining, and converting readers!

To read more about digital magazine design in the news, visit Digiday.

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