Reading a webpage is very different (and difficult) than reading a book. In a book, there’s nothing between your eyes and the words on the page. On a webpage, you have to traipse and trip over ads and other assorted clutter.
When it comes to improving readability on the web, the browser hasn’t been of much help. It gives us a full screen view and zoom but nothing else. For that we have to fall back on the little pals we call add-ons or extensions. We have already seen how they come to the aid of people who use Chrome as their browser of choice.
Taking a leaf out of The Four Google Chrome Extensions For Easier Online Reading let’s see if we can give some help to our eyes on Firefox.
We have covered the Readability add-on as recently as a couple of months back when we saw how. But it’s worth mentioning again as this excellent add-on is worthy of leading the rest of the pack. I won’t talk about it much; the screenshot shows the Firefox add-on in action as it converts one of our regular pages into a more reader-friendly one. What I would recommend is that you should get familiar with the keyboard shortcut (CTRL+ALT+R) to toggle Readability and the Auto scroll function (CTRL + SHIFT + A).
iReader is an experimental add-on that also creates a clutter-free scrollable reading page overlaid on the original one. There is also a version for iReader – Instant Clutter-free Reading on Chrome & Firefox.. The Firefox add-on recognizes an article and displays its icon in the address bar after the page loads. An iReader page opens up with all clutter removed. The add-on supports multi-page articles and you can set the background opacity in the options panel. You can use the iReader panel to disable images, change zoom, and share the page. We have covered this add-on previously in
Readable is an add-on developed by the same guy who gave us Readability: Baris Derin. It tackles the problem by giving you options to change the layout of a webpage by altering the fonts and colors. On some sites the implementation is not that great, but customizing things like font size and page color gets this add-on a positive point. We have reviewed this in more detail before.
This experimental add-on installs itself just next to the address bar. The add-on looks, feels, and is ‘heavily based’ on the old Open Source Readability bookmarklet. This add-on too is Open Source.
Easy Read is an experimental add-on the deals with excessive links on web pages by automatically hiding them when a page loads. You can toggle the page links by clicking the icon on the Add-on Bar of the browser. Avoiding links is a great aid for trigger happy fingers when a click on a link takes you away from the source page without finishing reading it. As the description page mentions, Wikipedia is a prime example of a link rich page which could with the use of this add-on.
A lot of web pages especially the older ones, have eye-jarring colors and backgrounds. You can choose to remove them and increase the white space with the help of this simple Firefox add-on. It may not improve readability by a large degree but removal of excessive color from web pages is sometimes soothing. Though it doesn’t look that great when it renders our MUO Facebook page, all white!
The add-on was designed for changing the color combinations on web pages viewed on CRT screens for the purpose of saving energy. I am not sure whether it ‘scientifically’ works out that way but the add-on’s Options allows you to play with colors and customize text and background colors as per your requirements. For instance, reading a web page against a black background sometimes helps me to focus better especially if the room is dark.
Readability is a concern on webpages especially when we have shunned books and newspapers and gone over to the internet. Maybe, these posts will give you a few more pointers:
Do you deliberately use tools like browser extensions and Firefox add-ons to enhance your reading experience? Tell us about your default ones.
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