How much time you’d like to spend reading this post?

Are you in a hurry? How much time you would like to spend reading this post?

This post is about the following concept – what if we make every blog post customizable in length so the reader will have the option to pick the version he/she likes the most.

Every now and then I bump into a very attractive article (or at least title) shared by friends and people I follow on social sites.
But what is my disappointment when I open that article and I see it is 1 mile long and I don’t have 3 hours to read it.
What I do then is skimming through the article and maybe reading just the subheadings if there are such.

When I have nothing else to do (very rarely) I would go and read the entire article but then here comes another disappointment – the valuable meaningful content is so little that it could be easily expressed in few sentences. Which in result will help me save time and energy.
Most of the authors are following some writing guidelines and they include an intro, a story, an outro, other peoples opinions, quotes and whatever they may find rich in keywords and somehow relevant to be included just for the sake to make the article longer and more SEO-friendly.

Let’s say we have an article that it takes 20 minutes of reading as an average. And if someone that likes short fast reading land on our page maybe he/she will leave quickly without reading the article or after a quick skimming.
But let’s suppose this particular reader is feeling pretty fine to read for 5 minutes. Can we make a shorter more condensed version of the article for him and keep him on the page to read the entire article and getting to the point where we would like every visitor to go to (generally a call to action at the end of the article).

My guess is that the visitors will consume more content this way. It is yet to be proven and I’m going to do some experiments (actually I already started with this post).
To make this experiment possible I wrote a WordPress plugin that makes these links on the top of this post available and that takes care to switch between the different versions of the post and of course to track which versions people are reading most and how much time they spend reading.

Maybe you will ask – isn’t it a lot more work for the author to make all these variations?
I believe it’s not a big problem. After I write the full long version then it is a matter of quick cropping to produce the shorter versions.
I will gladly do that if I know that I will keep more readers this way.

There’s another question that comes to my mind too – how it will work for search engines. We should always keep in mind that we’re writing the content for both – the visitors and the search engines.
The answer is simple – the search engines will always see the full version of the article. To leave the shorter versions on the page what we do is just hide some of the paragraphs, using a small javascript snippet.
But by default it’s always the full article which is loaded.


How this idea sounds to you?
Which version of this post did you read? Please comment below.

Would you like to participate in the experiment – share this post with friends and followers and let’s collect as much data as we can.
I will publish few other posts like this and after I get a good amount of visitors I will share the results in a separate post.

Posted in WP Development
5 comments on “How much time you’d like to spend reading this post?
  1. Mark Bender says:

    Yes this would be handy for certain news sites, and social network posts.

  2. I believe it would be beneficial and your idea may become mainstream. People love options when it come to their time. This simplifies that idea, if everything falls into place as to Title and initial information so they can make the proper decision based on what the see initially.

  3. Stanil Dobrev says:

    Mark, Darrel,

    Thank you both for your comments!
    It’s an idea… it can be used also for a quick preview that will let the people decide on going to the full read. It’s kind of similar to the excerpt, but it’s different because it is accessible right here on the full post page (and not only in the category), which people are sharing.

  4. Geir Amdal says:

    I am from Norway and was thinking of your Idea… and it is genuine… the second part of it have to be that there pop up a translation on the geotag you read under and we have one article for everybody… 🙂

    • Stanil Dobrev says:

      Thanks! Good point!
      I believe there is a lot to be improved in the way people write and read posts and I think we are generating very good ideas here.
      Thank you all for your comments!

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