Learn How to Add a Reading Progress Bar in WordPress- And Why You Should

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Have you ever been on a website, engrossed with a read, and then suddenly remembered: ”oh shot! There’s that thing”!

I need to go now…How to add a reading progress bar in WordPress posts and pages

And then, as you were about to get up, your eye caught sight of that 80% full orange bar at to top.

“Oh well, I might as well stay a minute longer and finish this great post”


That awesome thing is called reading progress bar and I am going to show you how you can get one for your website.

Let’s go!

3 Reasons Why Your Website Needs to Have a Reading Progress Bar

1. Transparency- Glue your Readers and Brand Together

You want to be honest with your tribe and tell them upfront how much time they’ll need to invest to read a piece of content.

Not everyone has the time “right now” to read a 15m post, and, I say this from experience, it’s very frustrating to leave the job half done.

I know that whenever it happens to me, I always feel disappointed and angry, both at myself and that long post (and in extension at the writer who wrote it).

Are you paying attention now?!

You DON’t want to have your audience angry at you.

How do you intend to convince them to buy from you? 🙂


be sincere and say: “TEN minutes. I ask for ten minutes of your precious time”.

They’ll appreciate your honesty, and either finish the post right then and there, or bookmark it for later.

“But- I hear you say- if they knew that it would take them ten minutes to read it, they’d leave.

No one can read so much nowadays”!

Are You Sure About That?

Let me guess- You read the research of Nielsen group that concluded that people don’t read on the web?

And you’re worried they won’t read your page.

For the most part- you have nothing to worry about.

One small part which does have veracity to it (sorry for the fancy word, I couldn’t use “true” twice), is that people do tend to skim when reading online. But it shouldn’t concern you one bit.

And here’s why:

You need to focus on the question: “what brings people to my post”?

They come to get answers. They have a problem- YOU have a solution.

Now, content-wise, you have two options:

#1- Write a 500-word blurb, hoping that everyone will read it.

And they will, I give you that, right before bouncing from your site, disappointed, to find a more thorough and in-depth article, one that really explains how to get things done.

Think of the wasted opportunity.

People either buy or they don’t. That is their choice to make and there isn’t much you can do about it.

But it’s entirely in your power to “prevent” them from leaving before having made that crucial decision.

People buy, or they don't. But at least let THEM decide! #WordPress Click To Tweet

Note– One neat user-engagement trick you can use is to have content tables at the beginning of your posts/pages.

They help draw folks in, because once the person clicks, they’re transported to the middle of the article. Then the progress indicator lights up and they read and read, till they’ve reached the end.

And they leave as happy (and soon to return) visitors:)

Here’s an example from this post:


#2- Write a 3000-word mega post.

One that delivers value and delves into the intricacies of their pain points (all of them).

Write a post that delivers a definitive answer to the question (keyword).

This is hard to do, I admit. But it’s so worth it.

When you first show how you truly care and want to help, and how you can help because you’re an expert , then later you can ask for something in return.

And here’s something to ease your mind when it comes to writing long-form content.

They won’t leave until the problem that brought them there disappears first.

So, write away friend. 😎

Note– Content is key but writing quality articles is hard. If you struggle with crafting compelling stuff and monetizing your work, you’ll want to check out and join Wealthy Affiliate Platform (University) as a free member. Folks at Wealthy Affiliate can teach you how to write for the web, and how to ramp up conversions too.

“But What About This Reading Bar Thingy”?

That being said, 3000 words is still a lot to take in at once.

And this is right where the reading progress bar comes in handy.

When readers get tired, the bar will gently remind them they are almost at the end.

And since they believe your post holds the answer to their problem, they’ll want to continue because they assume their troubles will soon disappear.

That is human psychology at its best and your best card for a winning hand.

Of course,

Needless to say (I’ll say it anyway) your content needs to give tremendous value, it needs to awe your audience.

So no writing for the sake of writing, no words for the sake of words.

No fluff. Never!

Bottom line:

Present your post as a HUGE time saver, a perfect solution.

A small time investment that rescues your reader from having to jump around ten different sites trying to piece together the puzzle.

2. It’s a Bar, But Also a Fishing Hook- How Come?

Just like good introductions serves to hook people and draw them into reading more, so can reading progress bar achieve something similar.

Except that I’d say that it doesn’t draw in, but more pulls them in and then pushes them out.

No matter how in a rush someone is, even if the world is crumbling around them, if there’s only one minute left, they will finish that damn post, (more interesting than the crumbling planet Earth- good job my writer friend!)

Though maybe I should’ve said: “you’re are to blame for any loss of life that happens- you shouldn’t have made your post that:

  • Damn good,
  • Damn helpful,
  • Damn interesting.

But I know I am the last person who has the right to say it 😀

3. Make People Genuinely Happier by Having This Bar Enabled

People like to feel like they’ve accomplished something.

And even reading one lengthy post is a big achievement for someone in a bad mood and who just wants to crawl into bed and forget everything.

But no, they chose to fight and turn their negative feelings into something much better.

You should applaud them for their efforts.

And, you should help them.


By showing them the’re almost at the end, they’ll force themselves to finish the post and feel better afterwards.

And here is the kicker (I know you don’t know this):

Have you ever been happy about something and in that state of mind took a shot at a huge problem weighing on your shoulder?

You solved it easily right?

Science says that when we’re happy- we are invincible.

So your tiny reading progress bar can actually help people solve the problem that got them in a bad mood in the first place.

Crazy right?

Not really, Only a bit out there, but I do think it happens often.

This is a hidden gem of a benefit of this humble bar.

For the readers but also for the author.

You see:

it’s proven that happier people spend more money.

And I know you have an excellent website-monetization plan. Plan that is just itching to be put to work and whose fruits of labor you eagerly expect.

Did I do all I could? Will it work? For me as it did for “those other guys” (how do they do it)

I know these questions keeps you up at night, and nag you, and gnaw on your brain.

And I’ll stop writing for a moment to let that image sink in and for you to scratch your head.

Ok, let’s continue:)

How to Add a Reading Progress Bar in WordPress?

With a plugin.

WordPress has them for everything, from adding images to speeding up your website to showing reading progress.

We’ll use the one called Worth The Read.

It’s a very lightweight and unassuming add-on to your site.  It won’t bog it down and it won’t distract your readers.

When they scroll- it appears to show them their progress; When they stop- it blends into the surroundings.

Here is How to Set it up:

First, install and activate it like any other plugin.

Then return to the main WordPress dashboard and click on Settings»Worth The Read

This is where you can change the default settings.

Here is how I set up mine(see the image below):

  • Posts and pages– checked
  • Should it include comments– No
  • Color– I chose orange
  • Placement– I chose top because the reading eye tends more to look upward than downward.
  • Touch DevicesYes, because more and more people are searching on mobiles and tablets
  • Save changes

That is it. Now the bar will appear whenever someone starts scrolling. Neat, right?

Worth the read plugin settings

Alternative- Estimated Time to Read

This is something different.

No progress bar but estimated time to read the post. Use this plugin if you don’t think the bar is a good fit for your website.

It does the same job of empowering the reader.

Install the plugin in from your plugin repository inside WP dashboard.

Then, return to your main WordPress dashboard and click Settings» Reading Time WP”

Here’s how to set it up:

  • Reading time label– reading time
  • Reading time postfix– minutes
  • Reading time postfix singular– minute
  • Words per minute– 300- this is on average. I think it’s a bit high (200 words might be better)
  • Insert Reading Time before content– yes
  • Insert Reading Time before excerpt: – yes


What About Other Plugins?

Other plugins exist that do the same job. But I chose “Worth The Read” and “Reading Time WP” because they are: both:

    • Free
    • Up to date with the newest WordPress.

Whenever you have the choice between updated and outdated plugin, choose the former rather than the latter.

It’s just safer.

Do I Really Need This? My Site is Good as it is.

Let me take a wild guess.

You write superb posts. Thorough, well researched, insightful.

And your copy is a work of art. It’s job is to help (because you honestly care about your readers), but it is also built in a way (both in design and words) to ever so slightly nudge people in a direction you want them to go.

You want to influence people with your words.

You want them to buy from you.

And are afraid that this bar will distract them, lower your conversion rate.

This is a valid concern.

After all;

If you get steady traffic, you’ve won half the battle. The other part is getting people to convert, and they won’t if they’re distracted.

I was concerned about this too… once.

So, to get to the bottom of it, I turned to people who know infinitely more about making conversions happen.

I took a peak at Conversionxl.com.

This is a huge authority site whose niche is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)

And guess what? They use a reading progress bar. They also give you the estimated time to read the post.

This is reassurance enough for me because I know they know their stuff.

Learn to Add a Reading Progress Bar in WordPress Posts and Pages! #WordPress Click To Tweet

Conclusion- Reading Progress Bar, Yay or Nay?

There you go, friend.

Normally, plugins can’t drastically improve the performance of a website, but I believe this one is an exception.

I predict that if you install this plugin, you’re going to see a major increase in dwell time and a major decrease in bounce rate.

You’ll also have far more engagement and shares; more leads and sales.

All the things Google (and you) want to see from your website.

Don’t forget to track the changes in your Google analytics. That is the only way to know for sure.

Thank you, friend, for reading. You are awesome.

If you liked it please share this article as it will help me grow.

Thank you.

I am interested to hear from you.

Do you have a question?

Do you have experience with reading progress bars?

Do you use a different plugin?

Recommend it here, give us your review. Thank you again.

Nikola signing out.

Nikola Roza

Nikola Roza is an affiliate marketer and blogger behind Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. He writes for bloggers who don't have huge marketing budgets and who still want to carve out a niche online and a better life for themselves. He's also passionate about precious metals IRAs and how to invest in gold and silver for a safer financial future. Learn about Nikola here, or read his blog posts and guides here.

6 thoughts on “Learn How to Add a Reading Progress Bar in WordPress- And Why You Should”

  1. Hi Nikola,
    I haven’t considered enabling or adding a reading progress bar indicator on my blog. But your article makes it looks exciting to include it. And since installing the plugin can help to increase dwell time-on-site, it makes sense to add it.

    • True, Moss,
      this plugin is so easy to set up, and the benefits you can get from using it are enormous.
      Thanks for commenting:)

  2. Hi Nikola,

    I liked both ideas of reading progress bar and time stamp. I always wanted a time stamp on my blog, but I didn’t get a chance to install one. I’ll definitely look into this.

    I have to say that I’m going to try out the “reading progress bar” plugin first because it looks interesting. Although I didn’t like the same idea in the Instagram video because either you can pay attention to the video or you can notice the bar.

    But it works entirely different on the blogs. I’m fascinated to see this.

    Thanks so much for this blog post.

    • Thanks Hassaan,
      reading progress indicator can only help your blog, and there’s no way it can hurt you.
      Because those who want to leave-will leave; progress bar or none. But those who want to stay will be grateful for “warning” them your article is a monster.

    • Hey Vince,
      thanks for the share and the comment. Yeah, reading progress bar can only make your site better, and it can’t hurt you in any way, It’s worth doing it.
      Make sure you let me know of your results. I’m sure they’ll be awesome, but…
      How awesome?


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