I’ve been reading about the interesting relationship between the size of a sheep and the size of a book (folio, tabloid, foolscap, quarto, octavo, etc) - all inherited from parchment production in the 2nd-4th centuries AD (and standardised with the advent the printing press), but carrying into the form-factors we use when reading today, even into the digital realm of e-readers where ‘eight-pages-per-sheep’ no longer makes any sense.
This got me thinking about other book-related legacies we still use in the digital landscape, and onto the subject of web ‘pages’, particularly multi-page articles.
Is there a point to paginating our articles? We’re no longer limited by the size of a sheep or cow. Isn’t it easier and less annoying to serve up a long article on a single page, or to use infinite scrolling? Are smaller pages easier to navigate as ‘chunked’ information? Do we as designers have a hidden agenda to show more branding or top-of-page advertisements by breaking articles into portions?
And if we did keep pagination, why do we only tend to increment by 1 page, rather than exponentially (perhaps by using a Fibonacci sequence?) when it’s clear people want to get deeper into the document than just the first 10 pages?
I’m hoping that these questions will kick off some discussion and get people to share their own practices, along with how (and when) each might be effective.
Is there a point to paginating articles online? What do you guys start with when drawing up a page concept, and have you ever had any feedback during usability testing? I’d be fascinated to hear!