“Real Artists Ship”

Colin Johnson’s blog

Above the Fold

Something that continues to bemuse me is why so many web pages continue to split content across so many pages. I can understand in the early days that there was a need to save the amount of information transmitted per page, in order for pages to load in a sensible time. But now, it is the forming of the connection and commencement of downloading that takes time—once a page has started to download, the actual content seems to download very quickly.

Forums are particularly bad at this; frequently, I see things like this:

forum index in blocks of ten entries

I don’t see the point; it takes me a few seconds to read quickly through ten entries, then about the same amount of time to load the next ten, during which my continuous partial attention flicks to another page on the screen. I’d much rather load the whole thing and then read through it all.

I can see one exception, and that is where advertisers are paying each time the page is loaded (but, I understand that this is a rare model these days).

Some sites have taken to downloading more when you reach near the end of a page, a kind of continuous stream of posts; this seems better.

The apotheosis of this can be seen in the emails I get every few months from a second-hand book dealer whose catalogue I signed up for a few years ago. These consist of around 10 separate plain-text emails, in order to “send this by e-mail while minimising problems with formatting and size”. It is astonishing how quickly that sort of thing has gone from being a necessity to being something that looks really weird and outdated.
large list of bookseller's emails

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