All in the <head> – Ponderings and code by Drew McLellan –

More After The Jump

An alarming trend is spreading across the web and infecting content like a virus. Yes people, I’m talking about The Jump, and more specifically, its cursed accompanying phase More after the jump. Just. Stop. It.

The Jump it would seem, refers to advertising that has been slapped inline with the content, content has been split over a couple of pages, or some other purely presentational reason. It’s the online equivalent of TV’s “join us after the break”, and it’s as annoying as hell. I find this to be an offence for a number of reasons, some practical, others social. More after the jump.

See?! Anyway, this is a bad idea is because a lot of the time there simply is no jump. If you read any of these sites via their XML feeds, there’s no presentation and any ads get thrown in at the end of the article, if at all, and so there’s nothing to disrupt the flow except for the pointer that the flow is about to be disrupted, which brings me to my second point.

One of the great blessings of advertising online is that it can exist in parallel with the content. Unlike TV, which is serial in its timeline-tethered delivery, online solutions are able to expose the user to advertising without that advertising actually getting in the way of the content flow. That is, until the ad is jammed in between two paragraphs.

The inlining isn’t so much of a problem in itself – after all it really isn’t much effort for your eyes to skip over the ad – but combine this with a blatant notification of “look out, here comes an ad!” it’s no longer a simple case of interrupting the flow of the eye – you’re interrupting the thought process of the reader too. You’ve crossed the line between whoring your screen real-estate and page impressions, and are into the territory of whoring your content.

The issue highlighted by the lack of ads in XML feeds is an important one. Typically, advertising is not part of your main article content. By refering to the ad in your content, you create a tie between the content and the presentation of the content – two things we normally strive to separate. Redesign your site, change your advertising model or even just repurpose your content in some way and you’re still left with an inane “More after the jump” embedding in your content, which makes even less sense now than it did when there was something to jump.

So if you really must inline advertising with your content, my plea is this. Please don’t mention it. Pretend that advertising is just not there. That way, when your readers get to the ad they can just skip over it and carry on, plus your content is not tied to this very temporary presentation implementation.

However, if you really, really do feel you need to warn users that your article continues after the big flashing marketing message you’re about to damage their retinas with, put the warning in your presentation layer along with the ad, and keep it out of the main content. That’s all I ask.