Are we that pressed for time, or is it a strategy?
We are all pressed for time based on what we’re doing or what we want to accomplish. I also think we need to slow down.
And, yes, adding reading time information to articles is associated with a strategy.
The first time I noticed how many minutes it would take to read an article or blog was on the Medium platform. Now I see the same reading time information on other website articles before I read any content. If I’m looking for specific information, most of the time, I’m really not caring too much about how long it’s going to take to read it.
If a writer is a good writer and is very passionate about the topic or story, I will read it regardless of length.
Why does a reader click on your story or article?
- There are things the reader wants.
- The reader wants to obtain information fast.
- When a reader sees how long it’s going to take to read your article, maybe there’s time to actually read it.
- Maybe the reader wants to give that time to you in exchange for the content.
Believe it or not, having that reading time element included is making your piece user-friendly, whether it’s a 3-minute or 12-minute read. In other words, the reader will see the reading time and decide whether or not it’s going to be read now or later.
If you have several articles on your website and you let the reader know how long it will take to read each of them, your visitor might stay on your website longer.
Reading time for an article & how you measure it
Silent-reading adults average 238 words per minute, and adults that read aloud average 183 words per minute. (Source.)
To measure reading time, calculate the total number of words in your article and divide it by either 200 or 250 (or 238 as listed above) and you’ll come up with the number of minutes to read your article.
If you want to optimize reading times, consider adding more subtitles and images to your article. Once you’re aware of the reading time on your piece, you can either decide to add more to it or shorten it.
Understanding the Impact of Length on Readability & Engagement
Seven years ago, a writer on Medium wrote the following comment which goes along the topic of engagement:
To be completely honest with you, I rarely ever read pieces with reading times longer than 10 minutes.
But once I started reading your story, I just couldn’t stop.
Having a longer article on Medium is more beneficial to a Medium writer if a Medium member reads it. You could also have a lot of short-written articles on Medium and find success too if all those pieces are getting read by a Medium member.
According to an article on MarTech, How estimated reading times increase content engagement: Letting your readers know how much time it takes to read your content helps improve user experience (which has a reading time of 6 minutes, by the way), your content might be more enticing for the reader to consume if there is a reading time included. After all, you provide a choice once you disclose the approximate reading time. The reader decides if your content is worth their time.
Just because an article indicates the reading time is 4 minutes doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be engaging or interesting. And never assume a 10-minute read is going to be dreadful. It could even be more beneficial to you than a 4-minute read.
It sounds hard to believe, but if you include an estimated reading time for your blog or article, this piece of information might encourage someone to read what you’re writing which could also improve SEO — make your articles more findable. And even if a person can’t read it now, it could be bookmarked to read later.
If a reader is already familiar with your work, it won’t matter how long it is. For other readers, it could be beneficial to you to include the reading time.
Thanks for reading.