Friday, April 24, 2009

Reading Styles: Formula 1 vs. Drag Strip

Why are my reading habits changing?

I don't know if it is the fact that I'm AARP eligible or just becoming a curmudgeon but I'm really tired of fighting to read. In the rush to augment revenue streams online content is often peppered with obstacles that distract and interrupt my reading. Here's an example from today:

There are only 51 words of content among the glitz and glamor of ads. Plus, the content on the rest of the page goes through a chicane to the right side of the page. I doubt the folks laying out a print version of this story would chop it up like that.

Now, I happen to like pomegranates and think the article on their marketing was good. The included slide show was a bonus. But I had to struggle reading it. Here's what I'd prefer:
  • Content is content and ads are ads. They are not simply segments of a wire frame to layout in a labyrinth to maximize confusion and odds of at least glancing over an ad.
  • Comments are great, but why bury them elsewhere? And why not associate them with the section of the story instead of chronologically?
  • Write in a style conducive to online behavior where speed is critical - scan, grasp, digest and navigate.

A message to publishers: Don't make me navigate content like a Formula 1 race track where corners are the point of the race; I'd prefer a nice drag strip where the focus is on the finish line.

Maybe the business model is micro-payments; not to eliminate ads but to comprehend.

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