Add a "Read More" for Product Descriptions in Shopify

read more spelled out in block scrabble type letters

Providing detailed product descriptions is great, both for customers trying to learn more about your products and also for SEO. Unfortunately, it doesn't always look nice to have a giant, long, detailed product description. This behavior could be considered poor UX (User Experience), as it forces customers to scroll a great deal or get bored and move on. This means they may not see additional important content, like other suggested products, and can hurt sales.

A "Read More" text or button is the perfect solution for this! This saves valuable visual real-estate on your product page, while maintaining the good HTML information within the code is still available for Google's bots to crawl your site.

Disclaimer: This is a short tutorial that shows you how to edit code in a theme with the starter Debut theme. If you are not comfortable with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript basics you should be very cautious before implementing. When in doubt, you really should have a developer do this for you.

Check for jQuery

First, this method uses jQuery, a longstanding Javascript library, to accomplish this and we need to check and see if it's installed in the theme. There are a couple of ways to do this, but since it could possibly be installed in various places, navigate to your product page where your "Read More" button is going to go and open up developer tools in your browser. Go to the console (Command+Option+C on a Mac or right click and choose "Inspect" in any browser). Type $.fn into the console (hint: only type the characters that are in between the backticks). If you get back your jQuery object, you've got jQuery and can move on to the next step.

If nothing came back, you can add jQuery to your Shopify theme by navigating to your theme.liquid file and inserting the CDN tag in the head:

\layout\theme.liquid

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.2.1/jquery.min.js" defer></script>

Please note this is NOT the most performant method, as it will load jQuery on every page. You may only need it on the product page, but it will get the job done for this example. The defer attribute within the tag is also optional.

Add the Function

Next, locate your main theme.js file. This is most likely in your assets folder. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and paste in the following code:

\assets\theme.js

$(document).ready(function () {
  $('.readmore').click(function (event) {
      event.preventDefault();
      var description = document.querySelector('#product-description');
      console.log(description.style.height)
      if (description.style.height === ''){
        description.style.height = 'auto';
      } else if (description.style.height === 'auto'){
        description.style.height = '';
      }
      else{
        description.style.height = '92px';
      }
      $(this).text($(this).text() == 'Read less...' ? 'Read full description...' : 'Read less...');
  });
});

Basically, this is a jQuery function that says to look for a class of readmore and listen for when it is clicked. When it is, we want the height of the element with an id of product-description to be expanded to fit the whole container. It will also then alter the text to say "Read less..." so that way customers can click on it again to hide the full description by shrinking it back down to 92px.

Pretty neat, eh?

Add the Selectors

Next we need to add the selectors for our function to the elements that we want to target. Without these selectors, our jQuery function is useless and will not know what to look for or when to act. In the standard Debut Shopify theme, go to "Edit Code" and then the product-template.liquid file in your Sections folder.

Around line 270 (at the time of this being written January 2021) look for the following code:

\sections\product-template.liquid

<div class="product-single__description rte">
  {{ product.description }}
</div>

and replace it with this code:

<div class="product-description-container">
  <div class="product-single__description rte" id="product-description">
    {{ product.description }}
  </div>
  <button class="readmore" style="text-decoration: underline;">Read full description...</button>
</div>

We wrapped our original div element with another div and the class product-description-container to help us with styling this. We also added the necessary id of product-description and link with the class of readmore for our jQuery function.

And Just a Pinch of Styling

So we just to make things a little bit cleaner, go ahead and go to your main CSS file, likely in Assets folder and titled theme.css and paste in the following:

\assets\theme.css

.product-description-container {
  margin-bottom: 2rem;
}

#product-description {
  height: 92px;
  overflow: hidden;
}

This just gives us a little more room at the bottom of our container and also helps with our height property, which is what we use to hide the content. It also makes sure that overflow is set to hidden so it doesn't spill over when we shrink that area.

You can definitely add some more fun stuff in here like color gradients for a cool fadeout effect, but this will at least get the job done without an app.

That's a Wrap

I'm hoping that this is helpful for you and your store in implementing a quick and easy fix without having to rely on an app! Your customers can be happy with having an easy enough read for product descriptions, can access more information if they need to, and keeps the good ole Google bots happy too.

This method could work with more than just simple product descriptions and is just one of many ways to do this. The way I described is not the most performant or necessarily ideal for your specific store, but it should work well for a wide use-case of stores.

See the "Read More..." in Action

You can see this basic example in action here in the Codepen below or open the Codepen in another tab.

See the Pen Read More Product Description - Shopify by Taylor (@tpage99) on CodePen.

Credits

Original resource for this method from CSS Tricks.

Start Here

If you're interested in starting a Shopify project or just learning more about the platform, give me a shout! I would be happy to answer your questions or get you started on your road to a successful and thriving store with Shopify.

Send me an email or check out my profile on the Shopify Expert Marketplace to get started.

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