Lab Project

Update: On February 1, 2011, Readability was re-launched into a full-fledged reading platform that includes mobile support, queuing articles for reading later and a greatly improved reading view. In addition, the platform provides a unique model for supporting publishers and writers through your reading activity. Visit to learn more.

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. Our friend to date has been the trusty “Print View” button. Click it and all the junk goes away. I click it all the time and rarely print. It’s really become the “Peace & Quiet” button for many.

Recently, Mandy Brown wrote a wonderful article for A List Apart called In Defense Of Readers. It’s an attempt to awaken designers responsibility to those who read on the Web:

Despite the ubiquity of reading on the web, readers remain a neglected audience. Much of our talk about web design revolves around a sense of movement: users are thought to be finding, searching, skimming, looking. We measure how frequently they click but not how long they stay on the page. We concern ourselves with their travel and participation–how they move from page to page, who they talk to when they get there–but forget the needs of those whose purpose is to be still. Readers flourish when they have space–some distance from the hubbub of the crowds–and as web designers, there is yet much we can do to help them carve out that space.

Mandy is spot on – and her concerns are even more salient in today’s cram-all-the-ads-on-one-page Web.

In response to all this madness, we’d like to introduce Readability:

Readability : An Arc90 Lab Experiment from Arc90 on Vimeo.

Readability is a browser bookmarklet (sort of like a bookmark on steroids). You can install Readability by visiting the Readability setup page:

Readability works with most major modern browsers and has been tested on many news sites and blogs. It isn’t 100% effective but works surprisingly well.

Our latest experiment was partly inspired by Marco Arment’s awesome Instapaper application (and equally awesome Instapaper iPhone app). We hope you enjoy this little tool. If you find any issues, feel free to comment on our blog.

If you’d like to keep track of Readability and other experiments that may escape out of our lab, be sure to subscribe to our RSS feeds for the lab and blog or follow us on Twitter for announcements.

The Readability code (including setup pages and supporting assets) is available on Google Code.

Readability is licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.