I was reading some article on Invision blog, my reading pattern actually got disturbed and eventually noticed it was because of the reading / spy. Lately, quite a few websites are using this to give feedback as the user read. Although we could consider this as one of the 10 principles mentioned in Heuristics for User Interface Design i.e visibility of system status, it is solely used as an eye candy.

Back in days, I’ve seen a very similar indicator in a video game or it could be possible it was meant for mobile users, who won’t necessarily get to see a scroll constantly.

Here are some of the and that came across my mind:

Pros

  • Basically, it was meant as an indicator for the reader to get gradual reading feedback as he/she reads.
  • Although the progress bar indicator is a design ambiguity, it is mostly can be used in longer articles/blogs which gives an instant response about completion.
  • It has become more and more common to hide the scrollbars when not in use, a progress indicator can be an additional support during such scenarios.

Cons

  • I feel this progress indicator as “redundant”, as we already have a native browser scroll bar, which tells me the exact same thing apart from distracting my attention.
  • Few users might get confused about this as a progress bar for loading new content which was initially used by youtube. Moreover, mobile users are more fond of this as loading content.
Progress indicator while loading a screen
Progress indicator while scrolling a screen
  • Basically, it is not recommended to use a similar style which is already been using for the content loader.
  • Also, if you have two containers beside, having an individual scroll, it is not recommended to use progress indicator in this scenario.
  • Comparatively, default scrollbar gives additional info about how lengthy is the content by looking at the height of the scrollbar. Whereas it is difficult in progress indicator as it is always considered width as 100%.

Although many designers are trying to help readers understand how far they are from finishing the article. Here are couple more examples I found interesting.

Here is one more concept I was trying to visualize. You can play around using this link.

Conclusion

This could be a lengthy discussion and ultimatly content is what users really care about 🙂 All I would ask is do progress indicator actually increase completion rate of the lengthy articles?

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