Poor “Related” Links Ruin Posts

I was reading a great post by Ricky Gervais on Time Magazine’s site today about the difference between American and British humor, when it struck me just how intrusive their in post “related posts” are.

Ricky Gervais - Time MagazineIt was quite a long post and one thing I find is that, if I lose the flow of a post by being distracted, unless it’s an exceptional post or something I have a deep personal interest in, I end up clicking away and moving on to the next thing. I guess it’s fair to say that sometimes I suffer from the TL;DR’s!

At this stage of my internet life I am more than used to sites dropping related posts, out-takes, advertising and 7 other kids of distracting crap into the content of an article, but what made the 3 related posts in this articles so annoying was that they were placed right in the middle of the flow of each paragraph.

Normally you’d expect to see such things between paragraphs but these were slap back in the middle paragraph, right in the middle of the idea, in the middle of the point. The links served the purpose not of enticing  me to click through but to make me stop and go: “WTF? Hang on, I’ve lost that, I need to go back”.

Related posts and links to other articles are supposed to compliment and expand upon what you are reading not leave you exacerbated because you can’t follow the flow of the post you are attempting to read, let alone make it a colossal effort to give a shit about the inserted links muster the interest to click off for further reading.

To top matters off, Time.com has a “related topics” section at the bottom of every post which would have been far better suited to sticking those links in.

I understand that these links are dropped into articles in order to drive pageviews and lead the reader down a rabbits hole that is jam-packed with advertising laden pages, but at some point you have to stop and consider readability.

If the very mechanism you’re using to drive readers to other pages is causing them to scratch their heads in confusion and close the tab in their browser, then you have to ask yourself what the editor (and I assume there was an editor) was doing instead of checking that the post was actually readable, beyond just running it through a spellchecker?