Harvard Business Review : Scrolling progress

A progress bar shows how far readers have left to scroll.

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The feature

The Harvard Business Review (HBR), the US-based business journal, has a simple but effective feature that appears at the top of long articles, showing how long until readers reach the end of the page.

As users scroll down the page on a desktop, a menu drops down from the top of the page, with options to save, share, comment, print, etc. At the bottom of this is a horizontal row of dots. These progressively turn blue as readers scroll through the article. The HBR site is responsive, but the feature does not appear on a smartphone screen, which is appropriate because most smartphone interfaces have a progress bar along the right.

The takeaway

The HBR feature acknowledges that the experience of a website is different on a desktop compared to a smartphone; in particular, desktop viewers are less likely to scroll to the end of long articles.

The design of the dotted horizontal bar could be adapted to long scrolling pages on corporate sites – it is unobtrusive, more visible along the top than to the right, and probably makes it more likely that readers will get to the end if they know how far they have to go.

First published 02 March, 2016
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