Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Text and the Web: Readability and Instapaper

I thought I'd share two great apps that make reading text on the Web easier (and cleaner, design-wise) given that one of my 2010 Designer Resolutions is to look for ways to simplify my projects.

The first is a browser app from arc90 called Readability. As the name implies, Readability makes it easier to read web pages. After you install the app into your browser's toolbar, a simple click removes all the extraneous visual garbage, like ads and crazy graphics, from the webpages you read and leaves you with simple text. Readability is simple, free, and adjustable to suit the way you'd like your text to look. I wish there was a real-life version of Readability to use with overblown museum graphics and labels!

The second app is called Instapaper (available in both Free and Pro versions) and it lets you quickly save Web articles to read later in an uncluttered text format with the push of a button (actually a bookmarklet you install in your favorite browser.) Instapaper goes one step further by letting you save those same text-based Web articles to your iPhone or iPod touch to read later (or on the bus or the train.)

Both Instapaper and Readability make it easier and more convenient to manage the avalanche of text-based information available on the Web. Many people have bemoaned "the death of print" since the boom in online newspaper sites and the introduction of e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, but maybe we just need to reconsider "reading" to find ways to shift some of our text-based information gathering onto our ubiquitous electronic devices.

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