Good: The Ringer

Bad: Sportsnaut

When deciding whether online content is readable, there’s a multitude of factors that go into it. The most obvious factor is font size, color, and placement. If the font is some jumbled mess of colors, shapes, and sizes, people will think they’re looking at some abstract art piece, not an online web page. Beyond just fonts though, things such as headers, pictures, and flow also affects a content readability. Beyond just the words you’re saying, having them flow in a logical order and providing relevant pictures of the subject will often make it much easier for a reader to digest, though too many pictures can also be a detriment. I have two examples of readable and unreadable web content, one from The Ringer and one from Sportsnaut, both discussing the NBA trade deadline.

When you first open The Ringers article, you’re shown a big, full width illustration. It’s an eye catching visual and also is relevant to the article, as it specifically shows the players most talked about at the NBA trade deadline. 

Going into the text, the introduction is short and sweet and gets us started on the list. The list itself is also well made. It’s in alphabetical order making it easy to search for the teams you care about and the difference between the moves themselves, the writer’s opinion of them, and their grade are all clearly displayed and separated making it easy and quick to digest. The writer also properly places pictures throughout the article, only doing it when important players are mentioned to help give the reader something more interesting to look at than just a giant wall of text. 

In comparison, the article from Sportsnaut seems lacking. They also open with an image, though this image is much less effective than the previous one. It’s not a very visually intriguing image and only shows two players and they aren’t named which could make it difficult for some to, making it come off more as a filler to use up space rather than an image that contributes to the article.

Beyond the header, the format of this article is also lacking. Instead of looking at each individual team, Sportsnaut decided to just name a few winners and losers. This is a good idea in theory, not every team needs to be talked about and if done well, it could be a much more informative to a casual fan. Sadly they fall short in a few areas making this article a tough read. First is that the order and format of the teams doesn’t make sense. It’s not alphabetical, there’s no transition between the teams, and the format of “winner -> loser -> winner” doesn’t even stay through the whole article. There’s no images through the rest of the article to keep intrigue either, so it makes it very difficult to sit through this giant wall of text in comparison to something like the ringer. 

The final thing The Ringer succeeds at that Sportanaut doesn’t is how to effectively use white space. For Sportsnaut, their entire article is aligned right, yet there’s nothing filling the white space next to it. It makes it very distracting at points when it feels like you’re only using half a webpage. The ringer on the other hand center aligns their article, as well as show related stories, podcasts, and videos to fill in more of the white space as well as provide more easily accessible content to their reader

Overall, these two articles really show the difference small things such as formatting and images can make to the readability of the article. In a vacuum, there’s technically not that much wrong with Sportsnaut’s article. The font is readable, the writing isn’t bad, but the lack of anything else makes it a difficult article to get through. The Ringer on the other hand provides a much better format, making it easier to skim and skip around to what you care about, provide visual intrigue for context and also makes you keep reading, and gives you a logical next step on what to do when you finish the article.