What This Is Not: This is NOT a design critique. It doesn’t take into account, the elegance, usability, great content, SEO, or revenue values of the fabulous blog discussed here: Read/WriteWeb, which is one of my favorite reads.
What This Is: It’s an exercise in point of view, how readers look at things. It also only addresses one value — how folks read. I choose a great blog to illustrate that even the greatest blog can challenge the patience of a tired, reluctant reader.
We’re All Reluctant Readers
In literacy education, there’s a euphemism, RELUCTANT READERS. That term is meant to name adults and children who come to print after having failed at learning to read. They come with specific needs. It’s hard to catch and keep their attention. Most educators use the term to identify folks who read below the level of the average population.
I use the term more literally. I think, at times we’re all reluctant readers — no matter how strong our skills are. Any time we have to read when we’re out of steam, we become reluctant readers — even if it’s our favorite topic. Then there are the times when we just aren’t interested. we’re definitely reluctant readers at those times too.
If you question that you’re ever been a reluctant reader, try this — pick up a legal document you don’t care about, and dig in for entertainment. . . . Bet you’ll wish for some pictures and some subheads.
Serving and Being a Reluctant Reader
Last night I was a reluctant reader. I decided to go with it. I looked at pages as an a naive, intelligent customer. My quest was to see when the page made it hard for me to read the content. What I found was that the question of supporting reluctant readers is only one value.
Beautiful blogs have many values.
Here’s a page from Read/WriteWeb, a blog I read regularly. This particular page features a post on Web Previews. The screen shots that follow tell the story.
Read/WriteWeb: the page full width.
Read/WriteWeb: same page main text only.
To get the fullest effect, visit the Read/WriteWeb page itself.
Feeds are a moot point in this discussion. Readers can’t see the ads, but they also can’t respond to them. Some questions to consider about folks who see the whole page:
- Where does your eye want to spend it’s time?
- Would you call this choosing for the reader?
- Could design tweaks increase readership, without sacrificing revenues?
- Is content king on this page? How would you order the elements by importance as you take the page in visually?
Read/WriteWeb is an excellent blog. with great content, great design, and a loyal readerhip. They’re in a business that is sponsored by advertising. That’s what lead me to realize that accessing the content has to be a partnership between the blog and the reader. Each has a part to make the experience work effectively.
What do you see that supports a reluctant reader? What might you do to draw that reader into the content?
–ME “Liz” Strauss