About reading on screens
We read. All the time. Novels, newspaper headlines, blog posts, twitter status updates, inscriptions, street signs, code, labels, instructions, poetry. We even read involuntarily: as soon as we see a combination of letters that seems decipherable, we immediately try to make sense of it. We read on paper, on metal, on walls, on plastic, on screens. On screens, we even have to distinguish between different purposes of the things we read: links, button labels, hashtags, navigation items, body copy. We, the web people have to take care that everybody can decipher, read, process, and understand what to do with the readable things that live on our screens.
Reading is our primary intake of information, but we still try to figure out, who reads what, when, where, how, why, how much, for how long, while doing what, and what is done with what has been read afterwards (i.e. sharing, commenting, recommending, etc.). It may depend on the readability of a button if someone buys your product, or if she uninstalls it. It depends on the processing of a headline if your smart and funny post about, say, a typographic paradigm change goes viral and boosts your reputation. It depends on the reading habits of that MP if your email to her will find a way into decision-making. You get the picture. It’s important, but it’s a mess.
This hook will explore some starting points of reading in all the aspects that can’t be ignored when you’re working with screens.
I’m quite aware that this post is almost five years old. However, Mandy Brown’s statements still hold true and continue to be relevant for the way we treat text today. At its core is a respect for the reader: we want them to read our content, so we must enable them to read it, effortlessly, exactly like they want it.
by Tim Carmody
Tim Carmody, long-time writer for WIRED talks about how the reading experience changes over time. What happens when reading habits change? What happens when new technologies arise, like newspapers, telegrams, screen readers? What about more unusual devices, we wouldn’t typically associate with reading, but that also depend on text to let users perform actions? If you care about reading experiences, listen to this man.
The awareness of a need for responsive typography that allows you to read comfortably (if not perfectly) on different devices, with different resolutions, at different distances, is not such a new thing. Still, it appears to be one of the hardest things to get right. Line length & height, contrast, size, etc. This article provides for an excellent overview of things to think about.
Jeremy Loyd pulls apart legibility and readability in relation to typography on screens. He shows how an awareness of typographic details, however small, may help you improve your design.
Is there a correlation between reading and sharing? Apparently not, as a new analysis by Chartbeat shows. Of course, it’s not that easy. But how do we know and decide what kind of writing really reaches many people, how do we know what people are really interested in? As slightly different take on the reading vs. sharing issue.
by Paul Jarvis
Ask yourself, honestly: are you creating readable content for yourself or for your readers? A great piece on people, their intentions on the web, reading, distraction, and value.