De-clutter the Web With the Readability Bookmarklet

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Arc90 Readability
Sometimes it’s nice to read an article without distractions. SitePoint’s design features links, forms and adverts but I personally think its layout offers good readability. Unfortunately, there are many sites that give the impression their advertising is more important than their actual content (I mention no names — they know who they are!) Brooklyn-based web agency Arc90 describes the problem:
Reading anything on the Internet has become a full-on nightmare. As media outlets attempt to eke out as much advertising revenue as possible, we’re left trying to put blinders on to mask away all the insanity that surrounds the content we’re trying to read. It’s almost like listening to talk radio, except the commercials play during the program in the background. It’s a pretty awful experience.
Fortunately, they have also produced a solution: Readability. Readability is a browser bookmarklet that makes reading web pages simpler and more enjoyable. Those using small screens, such as netbooks, could benefit the most because the system strips the superfluous information and shows the main content in a single column of easy-to-read text. To use it:
  1. Visit the Readability page.
  2. Choose your page style, text size, and column width (a preview is shown).
  3. Drag the Readability link to your toolbar.
You can now surf to any page and hit the Readability icon to extract and view the main text. It’s not perfect, but it works most on most websites — I find myself using it increasingly often. As a side note, the bookmarklet also provides an interesting assessment of web page accessibility. Certain development techniques can cause content to disappear; if Readability doesn’t show the page text, it may be that screen readers or Google will have trouble accessing it too. What do you think of Readability? Does it work on your favorite sites? Will you use it?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Web Readability Bookmarklet

How does the Web Readability Bookmarklet improve my browsing experience?

The Web Readability Bookmarklet is a tool that enhances your browsing experience by decluttering web pages. It removes unnecessary elements such as ads, sidebars, and other distractions, leaving only the main content for a clean, easy-to-read format. This is particularly useful when reading long articles or blog posts, as it allows you to focus solely on the content without any distractions.

How does the Web Readability Bookmarklet work?

The Web Readability Bookmarklet works by using a JavaScript code that analyzes the HTML structure of a web page. It identifies and isolates the main content based on certain parameters such as tags, class names, and id attributes. Once the main content is identified, it removes all other elements, resulting in a simplified, clean version of the page.

How do I install the Web Readability Bookmarklet?

Installing the Web Readability Bookmarklet is a simple process. You just need to drag and drop the bookmarklet link to your browser’s bookmarks bar. Once it’s there, you can click on it whenever you want to declutter a web page.

Is the Web Readability Bookmarklet compatible with all browsers?

The Web Readability Bookmarklet is designed to work with most modern web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. However, it may not work as expected with older versions of these browsers or with less common browsers.

Can I customize the Web Readability Bookmarklet?

Yes, the Web Readability Bookmarklet is customizable. You can adjust the settings to suit your reading preferences, such as changing the text size, font, and background color. This allows you to create a comfortable reading environment tailored to your needs.

Does the Web Readability Bookmarklet work on all websites?

While the Web Readability Bookmarklet is designed to work on most websites, there may be some exceptions. Some websites have complex structures or use certain coding techniques that can make it difficult for the bookmarklet to identify and isolate the main content.

Is the Web Readability Bookmarklet safe to use?

Yes, the Web Readability Bookmarklet is safe to use. It does not collect any personal data or track your browsing activity. It simply modifies the HTML of the web page you’re viewing, without sending any information back to a server.

Can I use the Web Readability Bookmarklet on my mobile device?

While the Web Readability Bookmarklet is primarily designed for use on desktop browsers, it can also be used on some mobile browsers that support JavaScript and bookmarklets. However, the user experience may not be as smooth as on a desktop.

Does the Web Readability Bookmarklet affect the functionality of websites?

The Web Readability Bookmarklet does not affect the core functionality of websites. It only removes visual clutter and distractions, leaving the main content and essential interactive elements intact.

Can I use the Web Readability Bookmarklet offline?

The Web Readability Bookmarklet requires an active internet connection to function, as it needs to analyze the HTML of the web page you’re viewing. Therefore, it cannot be used offline.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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