Modern web sites are getting more complex and readability decreases accordingly. Many flash animations, lots of ad blocks, eye-catching graphics… there are just too many things that distracts you from reading the content of a web site.
In this Google Chrome Tutorial, we shall see how we could improve the readability of web sites in Chrome. We shall use Chrome settings, Chrome extensions, bookmarklets and web apps to make web pages easier to read.
The easiest way to “purify” web pages is to block everything that may get you distracted. Most of these things re multimedia contents. You can click the wrench icon on the top right corner, choose “Settings” / “Preferences” (depending on your operation system), then choose “Under the Hood” and click the “Content Settings” button. Here you can choose to block all images. Besides, if you click “Disable individual plug-ins…” under “Plug-ins”, you can see a page where you can disable individual plug-ins including Flash, Java, RealPlayer, etc.
To make web pages easier to read, you can adjust the zooming and font size by clicking the wrench icon on the top right corner, choosing “Settings” / “Preferences”, then choosing “Under the Hood”. There you can set the default page zooming and font size.
This is a universal setting that affects all web pages in all tabs. If you only need to fine-tune a specific tab, click the wrench icon and click the + and – sign beside “Zoom”.
There are a few Chrome extensions you can use to purify web pages. AdBlock and Adblock Plus are two popular extensions that block ads on web pages. For the purpose of blocking ads these two extensions are similar, you can choose whichever you like.
Zoomy is a Chrome extension that maximize the use of the window size. Sometimes web designers limit the column size of web pages, the space on two sides are unused. This Chrome extension automatically enlarge the column width and thus the size of the content. You can see its effect in this video:
iReader is a great Chrome extension that purifies web pages. It automatically removes unnecessary stuff on web pages. What you get is the main text and associated images only. This is the purified version of an article on the Guardian newspaper web site:
There is another Chrome extension, Readability that works in the same way but it has richer features. You can select the font size, reading pane color and width. Links could be converted to footnotes to further eliminate distractions. A killer feature of Readability is that it can send the simplified web page to your kindle for reading. Isn’t it great?
Notforest is a bookmarklet. It is a bookmark stored in the bookmarks of your Chrome. Installation is pretty easy, just drag it to the bookmarks bar in Chrome. Whenever you want to simplify a web page, just click the bookmark and the page would be turned into a reading pane with pure text.
My last recommendation is rdd.me, a convenient web app that not only simplifies web pages but also shorten the URLs for easy sharing. It is a service that Readability provides, so their rendering engine are probably the same.
The best thing is you get a shortened URL. You can copy it and send to your friends. What they’ll see when opening the URL is the simplified page. Mobile users will see a further simplified page specially for mobile browsers.