Despite the ubiquity of reading on the web, readers remain a neglected audience. Much of our talk about web design revolves around a sense of movement: users are thought to be finding, searching, skimming, looking. We measure how frequently they click but not how long they stay on the page. We concern ourselves with their travel and participationâ€”how they move from page to page, who they talk to when they get thereâ€”but forget the needs of those whose purpose is to be still. Readers flourish when they have spaceâ€”some distance from the hubbub of the crowdsâ€”and as web designers, there is yet much we can do to help them carve out that space.
Mandy Brown, creative director at W. W. Norton & Company, wrote a nice story on A List Apart about understanding the needs of readers in web design.