the experience of reading

the experience of reading

The Issue

Working in the web industry means there is lots of news to follow. Tons of new developments all over that you are expected to keep track of. If you don’t keep track of the latest developments you can quite quickly find yourself using outdated techniques.

I use Google Reader to organize all my feeds. It’s great for moving through lots of feeds quickly to get the good stuff. Follow a few friends and they can share items you missed. Google Reader is accessible from any internet connection on any machine. Jump on the Google Gears bandwagon and offline reading is only a sync away. But Google Reader sucks…

Google Reader sucks for one thing though…reading. Yeah that’s right Google Reader sucks if you actually want to read the articles in your feed.

Google Reader is just not pretty. Sure the blue links with purple for visited links is accessible but boy the experience of reading is sadly lacking. Sure you can install HelvetaReader and get some nice typography and drastically improved looks for links but it’s still has a long way to go. It most certainly doesn’t make reading an enjoyable experience, reading in Google Reader is a utilitarian experience.

The Experience

I personally miss reading as an experience. I miss sitting and enjoying a good book. Yeah I know that much of those times are gone but the web could learn something.

Most sites are full of flashing little banners for adds (I know people need to get paid). Though they say ‘content is king’ it’s really only lip service it seems.

A book is just words on paper. You’re not getting distracted by that cool flash add. You sit and experience the story, experience the content.

I want blogs to start taking some of this experience into their design and layout. Drop the flashing adds. Tone down content all over your sidebars. Provide the user with some beautiful typographic layout in the body copy and let the other things fade to the background.

Yes I do realize my site doesn’t totally mesh with this idea, but a redesign is in the works.

The Reality

So despite all the charming things I said above the reality is that putting time into a blog is a lot of work. At some point there has to be a payoff and for many people it is financial. Financial comes in a few forms. It can be the adds. It can be the referrals for clients.

Most of those payoff’s require some form of advertising and some way to pull the focus off the text and onto your services or your adds and contact forms. But let’s see if we can leave off a bit and let the reader focus on what they came to see, the content.