Is a progress bar a must?

Progress bars can give readers an idea of where they’re at, but is this a distraction?
Here are some instances of progress bars:

Classic progress bar on the Linktree blog

Bar covering the text on the Spotify Design blog

Progress bar placed appropriately with the article’s title and sharing options for an Airtable blog post

Dropbox Design, similar to the Airtable example but with a focus on link sharing and a side menu

One-of-a-kind progress bar that turns into a check mark at the end and you can click it to return to the homepage
So why do some brands choose to display these and why are they more common with design-first blogs?
  • A progress bar is a usability feature rather than a marketing hack.
  • They’re generally used to show readers at what stage they are and how much time they have left until the end of a post.
Commonly. progress bars are displayed at the top. That’s where you’d normally add the date, read time, and other similar facts related to an article. So naturally, that’s where the progress bar fits too.

But occasionally, you’ll see this approach:

A progress bar below your content is much more obvious. This means it’s also potentially distracting because it lives right where a reader’s eyes are looking. It can also take up a considerable part of the screen, making it more difficult for users to scan the article.
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Until next time,
Alexandra Cote
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