“For a generation glued to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, more often than not on their phones, the standard webpage is as anachronistic as a home telephone.”
So says Jack Marshall of Digiday in his article “404 Error: the Webpage is Dying.”
He claims that “the standalone webpage as we know it might soon be a thing of the past,” replaced by never-ending newsfeeds offering limitless choices of content in an unbounded experience of clicks and scrolls.
“A growing number of publisher sites are now shunning the concept of finite pages, opting instead to serve users seamless, often endless streams of content. The webpage, largely a hangover from the world of print media, suddenly seems outdated and archaic in a digital world.”
Marshall cites Yahoo’s revamped news and tech feeds as two examples, along with The Atlantic’s mobile-based publication Quartz that launched in 2012.(True confession– as I was writing this, I jumped over to Quartz and, within 10 seconds, was distracted to the point that I forgot why I was there in the first place.)
In fact, it’s all beginning to look a bit like my Facebook feed, and that’s no coincidence, says Marshall.
“Social media has also changed the way users interact with digital content. They’re now used to flicking through feeds of content on networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they’re beginning to expect the same from media publications, too. The rise of touchscreen devices has had a [similar] effect. It’s easier for users to swipe their way through content than it is to have to tap and wait for it to load.”
That’s all well and good for web-based content. Perhaps the format does need to evolve to keep up with readers’ ways.
Yet it proves to us once again what is so lovely about printed magazines and the way they are designed.
Print offers a finite experience, carefully created by the design and editorial teams to tell a certain story, create a certain mood and bring the reader along. You turn the page, and continue the engagement in a way that flows and helps the entire story unfold. It’s a beautiful medium that just can’t compare to a digital experience in any shape.
Until we actually reach that last page of the Internet, at which point we’ll go read a book.