The Readable Future

Brent Simmons notes the quality of reading on the web for publishers has to be considered when taking design of those sites into question. Most websites are nearly impossible to read, and actually driving readers away.

The future is, one way or another, readable.

Because that’s what readers want, and because the technology is easier to find and use and learn than ever. That trend will continue because developers live to give people technologies that make life better.

This means that ads will go-unviewed. Analytics will be less and less accurate. (They’re already inaccurate.)

Part of me wants to appeal to publishers based on emotion. The idea that the HTML web becomes the poor version, the version that only poor Dickens urchins read, while the rest of us are comfortably reading in Flipboard and Instapaper and RSS readers, makes me so sad I can hardly stand it. I love the web, the web based on http and HTML and CSS, the web that appears in web browsers. The extent that I, and people I know and people like me, already avoid this web is shameful — but we do it because we like to read. The shame is not ours.

It’s something I struggle with here, balancing social media share buttons, ads, etc. in presenting a site that’s easy to read and not ultimately distracting one from the content. I can’t tell you the number of battles I’ve had over autoplay ads and I feel duplicitous for having those text link ads, but they make okay money for me in the grand scheme of things.

At the end of the day it’s a tough balance for anyone publishing on the web to trust a focus on content and not grabbing pageviews, having too many ads, etc.

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