If you grew up reading newspapers and magazines in their analog formats, you know quite well the picnic is over and the only place to subscribe and read them will be online in the next few years. We all hoped publishers could transition to the digital age with elegance, but they instead chose to arrive to the party overdosed on Google AdSense and drunk off Flash banners. Typical of major industry shifts, it's been a horrific ordeal for the incumbents, and we -- their customers -- have suffered as a result of their obtuse efforts. With the advertising industry and content management systems of the Internet simultaneously changing alongside this movement from ink to pixel, we've been left with an exercise in frustration over what should be a simple operation: reading words.
As such, I'm introducing an on-going project that curates the worst, most hostile reading experiences on the Internet: Hostile Reading Experiences: A Public Exhibit. It'll permanently reside under the Projects section.
While online publications are often hit or miss in areas of layout, distraction, and readability, these sites' ill-advised designs will most likely discourage you from attempting to read any more than the headline -- if you can even locate it.
In our trendy era of animated display banners, social media buttons, Google AdSense links, related story widgets, scrolling navigation bars, and amateur typeface settings, it's no wonder people prefer watching videos. I've compiled a list of sites that currently violate reasonable reading expectations online, and will continue to add examples as I cruise the net.
I mean, really: Large publishers can meet a reasonable balance between ad-generating revenue and readable content. They have all along with their print product -- why does the digital version fall so far from the tree? In lieu of these publishers' oversights, smaller, leaner content foundries (like The Magazine, NSFWCorp, Svbtle, The Morning News, The Bygone Bureau, and The Brief), have grasped the opportunity to improve reading experiences for their own subscribers while shaming the treachery of their elders. Designing and providing great reading experiences shouldn't be a trend with the nerd periodicals -- it should be the expectation. It's dispiriting to know that so few of the major publishers realize this.