Fuller teases to related articles

The other day JD Lasica linked to a humorous (in hindsight) story in the Sumter (S.C.) Item about a bomb scare. The suspected car bomb turned out to be a tracking device put on the vehicle by the driver’s wife.

There’s a sidebar that goes with the main article, and I think it’s interesting how The Item’s site links to the sidebar. Most sites only include the headlines of related articles, but The Item creates a sidebar box nestled into the story with not just the headline, but also the byline and the first two paragraphs of the story:

In a gray left-aligned box inside the main story are a headline, a byline, two paragraphs of the story and a link to the rest of the story.

I like this technique. The design gives readers more information about a story before they have to choose whether or not to click a link and read the rest. There’s empirical evidence that readers prefer having story summaries in addition to headlines in lists of links to articles.

The Item also uses this long-form presentation technique on its section fronts, as do some other news sites, like the Salt Lake Tribune. Usually only one story is visible in the first screenful, but if readers are willing to scroll, they can probably navigate more easily than under “ping-pong browsing.”

There is one thing I would recommend that The Item change immediately, though. In that sidebar box and on their section fronts, the only links into the stories are the red “read the story” links. They must make the headlines clickable too.

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This page last modified on Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 6:03 pm