Inspired by putting visually imparied people first, Reader-view creates a new way to search the internet.
Typically when people search the web for content to read, the process consists of two separate tasks: guessing which link is going to be the best one to click, and then reading the articles. For folks with good vision, this is a slight waste of time; but for people with visual impairments, this is tedious and annoying.
Reader View is a new Chrome extension that helps people search and read high quality articles quickly. Launched this week by a company called Giggle, the extension improves the search experience by allowing people to read without leaving the search experience.
The way I would describe Reader-view is that it acts as a magical book. Once you search, the book fills up with articles about the topic you want to read about. For example, if you search for “Is Google a monopoly?,” instead of clicking the first link to read the article, then clicking back when you’re done, you hit the large Reader View button, and you’ll see all of the text from that article displayed in a panel. If you’re done reading it, you can click next to pull up the article from the second result.
“As we developed this, we constantly thought about how a blind person might interact with it,” says Mewantha, a lead developer on the project. The extension has full audio of any article so that the text can be read, and you are free to resize the text to as large or small as you are comfortable with, he explains.
One of the little tricks that Ashish, another developer on the project is proud of, is “pre-downloading”, which automatically goes ahead and downloads article #2 while you’re reading the first article so that it’s ready for you when you click next. There is zero wait time, and if it’s a junky article, the system just skips it for you so that you don’t need to waste your time.
Putting blind people first, not last as an afterthought, is increasingly used to design revolutionary new products. Necessity is the mother of invention. Creating constraints by focusing on people with impairments pushes teams into thinking about creative solutions.
“One of the things I like best about Reader-View,” says Robert, a beta-tester “is that the extension gets rid of all the junk for me. There’s no ads, the bad articles are skipped, and there’s no pop-ups. It’s a reminder of how the internet was before Google ruined it by incentivising click-bait.”
The ultimate goal of Giggle is to fix journalism. One of the challenges that the extension faces is pushback from large newspapers which are funded primarily by displaying ads to people who visit their websites. The trouble is that 60% of local news outlets have been closed down within the past decade. Small newspapers can’t compete with the global scale of mega-papers funded by, let’s be frank: click-bait. With Reader-View, whenever you enjoy an article, you can click “contribute” to make a micro-contribution directly to the journalist or blogger who wrote the article. This incentivises quality over eyeball catching, and should help local news outlets become relevant again.
The company is now looking to get in touch with as many journalists and bloggers as possible to do some user research before completing development on the donation system. If you are a journalist, they’d love to hear from you at [email protected]. If you have a visual impairment, and have some feedback, please just click the “feedback” link at the top of reader view.