Each day we all do a great deal of reading on the web. Along with blog posts like this one, you’ll probably plow through some news articles and maybe even some research publications before turning your attention elsewhere. Unfortunately, much of this content resides on web pages ill-suited for actually conveying information. Many web sites with news content, for instance, have been designed not to show you news, but, instead, to show you advertising. These sites also inundate you with links to their other content in the hopes that you’ll browse around a while. Readability strips away all of that clutter and presents the content you desire in a format designed for one thing, reading.
Here are a few screenshots of life with and without Readability. Click on any photo to see a full size version.
The Washington Post Before and After
Project Muse Before and After
The best part about Readability is that it is so beautifully simple. You don’t need to install any software. Readability is merely a bookmarklet, a small piece of code that works as part of the bookmark bar in your web browser. At Readability’s web site you select the style, font size, and margins that you want used when Readability shows you text. Once you’ve made your choices, you simply drag a button to your bookmark bar. When you are out on the web and find a page of content to read, a simple press of this bookmark button transforms the text to the Readability view. Refreshing the page changes things right back to normal.
You can also download extensions for both Firefox and Chrome which create Readability buttons for the browser itself and add hotkeys for switching to reading mode. With these installed you can also run Readability right from your pointing device if it is customizable. I’ve got an extra button on the mouse attached to my home desktop set to enter the hotkey for running Readability. And on my netbook the touchpad allows for each corner to perform a certain action when tapped. On that PC, a tap of the touchpad’s bottom left corner runs Readability on whatever web page I’m currently viewing.
Readability works in all major browsers and across all operating systems. So, really, there’s no excuse for you not to drastically improve your online reading experience.