Fixing “View All”

Lots of websites paginate their stories  – we all know the so-called justifications for why – so I won’t expand on that argument. However, many also helpfully include a “view all” link at the footer of each page so that if you want to view the whole story on one page you can (aside: with the various time-delay readers like Instapaper or Reader mode in Safari, this might be moot now, but I still use it a fair bit).

Unfortunately, these “View All” links are totally, and totally unnecessarily, broken. Have a look at this recent Wired article: “3-D for your ears”. It’s split into 3 pages, and at the bottom is one of those links. But when I click on it, it reloads the entire page, and leaves me at the top, not where I was.

I understand their desire to do a whole page refresh – in the game of page-view-counts, one more view is presumably a good thing. But their internal CMS must also know how/where a page splits – as it provides a split option. And we have the ability in HTML to link to any arbitrary point on a page via an Anchor Link. So why not tag the bottom of each page with an anchor – something as basic as “page1”. In the View All, you could then link me to the anchor link for the page , using the #page1 anchor link. You still get your extra page view, but you don’t annoy me in the process by making me find where I was in the now much larger content block.

I think the best solution of these “View All” links would be to simply load in the rest of the content in the current page via AJAX call – so the content simply stretches down – less bandwidth for everyone involved, and significantly more “refined” feeling in practice – but as I said, that doesn’t help the page-view-count game.

Because these view all solutions are currently such an annoyance, I find myself clicking the “Reader” button in Safari on almost every site I go to that paginates their stories. But for much the same reason I was never big on reading sites in RSS readers, I don’t particularly like this interface. I like the content to be snuggled in the chrome it was intended to be in.