Readability, a free way for more comfortable reading

16 January 2012

Searching the web while sitting by a deck ina already the past. Desktop computers will still stay in use in our daily work but from several years now mobile devices efficiently displace them.

Notebooks and netbooks, tablets and smartphones. In case of these devices it is significant to fit as much information as possible on a screen which quite small after all.

The readability.com service might come in handy here – a service since a couple of days available for all for free.

The task of Readability is to shell from a website only the significant content, which is the main article without side content like menus or annoying adverts. Besides the mobile devices users this service will be surely appreciated by people with vision dysfunctions, seniors or users with problems to concentrate.

Readability allows you to make article lists for reviewing in a later time, archiving the articles or adding to your favourites. Users can place the articles there in a couple of ways – using a web browser plugin, script bookmarks or a dedicated e-mail address to which he/she can send favourite links which will be added to the “to read” list.

We have to admit that the service does quite well with finding the main content. But there is no rose without thorns. The site has a couple of mistakes which will be definitely effect users with unusual hardware/software configuration or those using assistive technologies.
An Utilitia test which covered the main page and ten subpages of the service gave a result 6,4 out of 10. The website has syntax errors in the HTML and CSS codes, some pages have headlines embedded wrong way and in some cases there are no clear document titles. The service also does not have the language declared properly, but in this particular case we should ask a question whether it would be good to declare one language if the content transformed with Readability can occur in every possible language in the world?
A Firefox browser plugin which gave hopes for comfortable adding content to Readability unfortunately disappoints. A user working with a computer using only the keyboard (eg. a blind person) cannot change the key shortcuts assigned to specific activities.

Summing up – Readability is an interesting service which can turn out to be very useful. It will definitely make easier and improve the accessibility of content on many web services. But you cannot hide the fact that it would be even more useful if its developers looked more closely at the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.