No one expects you to read the entire Internet every day, start to finish. That’s where Twitter helps: it’s a cursory but totally comprehensive rundown on all the online content out there.
Actually (and sadly), the facts don’t back that up. According to data collected by Josh Schwartz, a data scientist at Chartbeat, and outlined by Slate’s Farhad Manjoo (also a Fast Company contributor), a paltry number of readers finish online articles. A graph that pairs article length with number of viewers looks roughly like a bell curve: Most page visitors will read half of the given story before the numbers start to gradually fall off.
According to Manjoo: “When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people don’t even make it halfway. Even more dispiriting is the relationship between scrolling and sharing.” He goes on: “Both at Slate and across the Web, articles that get a lot of tweets don’t necessarily get read very deeply. Articles that get read deeply aren’t necessarily generating a lot of tweets.”
The analysis also hints at how page design can play a role in persuading readers to stick around a little longer. On average, two-thirds of time spent on a page happens below the initial scroll window. Schwarz found that for Slate, that number is higher, at 86.2%. It’s likely attributed to Slate’s page format, which delivers only a modicum of text at the outset, then the goods below the fold. Unfortunately, for publishers and devoted writers everywhere, that still means readers are only engaged for a few paragraphs.
Read the whole story (or just some of it) over at Slate.