Tools for reading online content

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    Tyler Andor
  • Published on

Reading on the web sucks

Reading content on the web has never been a good experience. It's pretty terribble, really. While awareness of digital typography standards and best practices has increased, this hasn't translated into an overall increase in the quality of reading experience across the web generally.

One problem I've noticed stands out above all others:

  • misaligned priorities that result in continuous interruption

Can you imagine trying to read a book laid out like this? Just as you get into the flow of the narrative you jump from the end of an intriguing paragraph to the opening of the next a subtly embedded advertisement trying to predict that you might also be interested in reading this other book, article, or magazine.

I'm trying to read what you wrote here. Leave me alone!

If you've read any significant amount of content online you've experienced this frustration. That's why I want to share some of the tools I use to re-sanify the world of digital content.

Reading is an exceptionally high-focus activity. Reducing distractions and stipulating sound typography and layout dramatically improves my experience with digital content.

Here are the primary tools I use:


My Favorite: Instapaper

Instapaper is fantastic for both it's typographic customizations and additional features, including a speed reading mode.

A Classic: Reeder

RSS is still the best way to create incoming streams of content from sources you know and trust. I use Reeder (iOS and Mac OS) for subscribing to RSS feeds of high value and often long form content.

Put it in your: Pocket

I primarily use Pocket as a bookmarking service, but it also provides a well-designed UI for reading.

In the Browser

Most browsers have built in tools and/or extensions available to make reading online content less unbearable. If you don't need to archive or otherwise save reading material, here are a few on-the-fly options.

Safari Reader

If you use Safari you probably know about this built in content viewer. It's not as good as the dedicated reading apps, but it works.

Chrome Extension: Mercury Reader

Mercury Reader is just one of several extensions for Chrome that will add to your browser a feature similar to Safari Reader.