Getting into Reading Mode

I have always found it hard to read a lot of content online. There are numerous reasons for this: poor layout design, bad typography and a lack on concentration on my behalf.

It is clear that this is a problem not unique to me. There have been many attempts made to make the experience a better one. From Safari’s built in Reader mode to Readability, designed to ‘zap online clutter and save web articles in a comfortable reading view’.

Focus Mode

The purpose of these systems is to remove the other distractions of adverts, additional links or related stories. At a much deeper level, Information Architects understood this whilst building their iA Writer they created what they called Focus Mode:

Thought goes into writing, not using: Focus mode allows you to think, spell and write one sentence at a time. This lowers the temptation to cross edit and keeps you in the flow.

I like the idea of keeping people ‘in the flow’ and so created a very quick mockup of a ‘focus mode’ for reading posts, not just writing them.

This could be made into a JS snippet, or as an idea for someone to use on their own site.

Because the script uses :hover this wouldn’t currently work on a phone, but I’m open to suggestions.

2 thoughts on “Getting into Reading Mode

  1. James

    Interesting idea although I noticed quite quickly that to me it feels a little forced. I’ve not used iAWriter (although I know about it) but I get the gist of it.

    However, it felt very much like the digital equivalent of reading by moving my finger along a line as you used to do in school when learning. Don’t know if I’d be the lone oddball who felt like that though!

    I also noticed that if you don’t move your mouse and you scroll (even if it’s over text) the next para doesn’t highlight. (Win7/Chrome) Might just be the hit target needs a little fine tuning.

    Neat experiment though :)


  2. Paul Post author

    Hi James, thanks for commenting.

    The ‘moving your finger along the words’ thing is exactly what I was after. I found myself reading long blog posts highlighting each paragraph, as a way of focusing where I was.

    My original prototype actually calculated the middle of the page, and highlighted the paragraph automatically, but I wanted to simplify the concept for the purpose of highlighting the concept, not the technology.

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