Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Designing Blogs for Readers

Speaking of hard-to-read blogs, Matt Gemmell wants you to make your blog suck less for readers:

Having had a decade to think about it, I want to share my views on what I think you do and don’t need on a blog today. Your needs may be different, but perhaps you’ll find something to think about. I bet you could simplify your blog in some way without detracting from the reading experience.

I freely break a few of these rules: I will remove my sidebar when Gemmell uses a much less ungainly font. But the ethos of a simple background, clean type, and few distractions is one that is decidedly not user hostile.

Remember Ben Brooks’ article on readability?

I wondered after thinking about this just how readable the web really is — well the web that I encounter. So I took a look at twelve different sites to see if I thought the designers behind the sites were optimizing for reading, or for ads/pageviews/money.

Out of desperation, far too many websites optimize for ad revenue. It’s hard to blame them for trying to earn an extra buck in a world where users demand everything for free, and install AdBlock. But these same companies overlook why people install AdBlock, or use Instapaper (disclaimer: I use the latter, but not the former).

Make no mistake — Gemmell has some great points in this article. But the underlying reasons as to why the web looks more like The Next Web than Daring Fireball must be addressed. A paywall certainly helps, but that’s not a universal solution (and certainly not a good one for most bloggers).