Picture yourself kicking it with Toto in the merry old land of Oz reading a book when suddenly you are attacked by flying monkeys. Nearby are grumpy, anthropomorphic talking trees that start ripping apples off their branches and hurling them at you. The Wicked Witch of the West swoops in and unleashes a swarm of fireballs your way. Toto starts yapping. The Munchkin Lollipop Guild arrives on the scene doing cartwheels while tantalizing you with lollipops the size of your head.
As you exercise the 5 D’s of dodgeball, (dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge) you try desperately to focus on finishing the last chapter in your book. You ultimately crumble under pressure and accept the lollipop from your Munchkin friends only to be whisked off into thin air by a flying monkey.
We wish to welcome you to the wonderful land of the obnoxious Internet which is spiraling out of control like a Kansas home trapped inside a ferocious tornado.
Reading online has morphed into a painful task.
We continue to be bombarded with troves of annoying online ‘flying monkeys’ such as autoplay video ads that scare the sh!t out of us if the volume is turned up too high, cookie alerts, push notification requests, site redirects, newsletters and e-book sign-up popup windows, monstrous banner ads taking up the entire page, ads weaved in and all around the content we are trying to absorb, and creepy ads that follow us as we scroll down the screen.
Banner ad takes up half the page. Am I on the Verizon website or the The Verge?
I recently had a whack-a-mole session with an autoplay video ad over at the Forbes website. After eventually finding the camouflaged ‘X’ in the upper right corner, I couldn’t close the window. The boxed ad flew away from my cursor taunting me with its top 5 tips for refinancing my mortgage as if to say, “catch me if you can.” The ordeal seemed like a technical glitch at first but proved to be a sad and poor marketing tactic.
Aside from being a nuisance, online advertising has become increasingly intrusive, can threaten security with underlying malware attacks, and can bring web page load times to a screeching halt. According to a report from Ad Lighting, more than 40% of online ads are larger than industry standards slowing down websites and leaving you twiddling your thumbs as you wait for the page to finish loading.
How to Fight Back Against Shoddy Web Design and Annoying Online Ads to Reclaim a Pleasant Reading Experience
Let’s not resort to ad blockers just yet.
Although 26% of users use ad blocker software like Ad Block Plus, I’m holding off on ad blockers for now and here’s why.
I still have faith publishers will clean up their act due to the rising popularity of ad blocking software. If they do not, online publishers are expected to lose $35 billion a year to ad blocking software by 2020.
Free top-notch content deserves to be rewarded. Advertising pays the bills for the millions of authors who slave away every day researching and pounding the keyboard to bring us remarkable content. Banishing ads for good would be devastating for the good ones out there who create great content and strategically place their ads in a non-disturbing fashion.
Reader View is the Answer
Most web browsers now include a Reader View option for removing all of the surrounding garbage with just one click. The best part about the functionality is that it’s built into the browser settings eliminating the need for installing any third-party software, plugins or extensions. Once you strip down to the meat of the article, you are left with a simplified text reading view with options to format the background and text to your liking.
The Reader View differs from ad blockers by simply changing views instead of blocking out ads completely. You determine when to enable Reader View which is usually when you stumble across an article worth reading but is too grotesque with advertising distractions.
Some browsers will allow you to set Reader View to default every time you launch an article that supports the format. Not all websites support the Reader View format but the far majority do.
Most popular browsers like Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer all have reading modes functioning similar to one another.
Let’s take a look at how reading mode is enabled and what extra features come with the tool.
Safari and Firefox Lead the Pack
Both browsers offer the one-click Reader View option near the URL bar along with options for formatting text and changing background color.
Firefox adds a nice bonus feature displaying the estimated time it takes to read the article.
Both Safari and Firefox’s mobile version function similar to the desktop versions which is a huge plus for better reading on your phone.
Google Chrome unfortunately does not offer a reader mode with its basic installation. The option is hidden and additional steps are required to enable the feature.
For instructions on adding the reading mode option to Chrome, please read:
How to enable reader mode on the Chrome desktop browser
How to enable reader mode on the Chrome mobile browser
Read Online in a Bubble
Reading mode is your bubble—much like Glinda the Good Witch’s bubble used as a protective barrier to keep away evil, wrongdoing, and those damn flying monkeys.
As you float through the turbulent internet universe, shield yourself from the surrounding clutter and distractions that can harm your focus and remove the ability to truly consume content for learning and personal enrichment.
Take back control of your focus when reading online.
“You’ve had the power all along.” – Glinda the Good Witch
Images courtesy of MGM Studios