A couple of weeks ago, O'Reilly Media's Kat Meyer pointed me to a recent issue of a new digital magazine, Contents.
The web site explains that the magazine is devoted to "content strategy, online publishing and new-school editorial work." Each issue examines a central theme, and each contribution offers a different angle.
When I first looked, the most recent article described "The audience you didn't know you had", by Angela Colter. She examines what publishers can do to reach and meet the needs of low-literacy readers, a group that make up as much as half of the reading populace.
After describing both the nature and extent of the challenges faced by low-literacy readers, Colter offers some practical guides to helping this audience engage with content:
- Make it easy to read
- Make it look easy to read
- Include only what's important
- Be consistent
- Provide feedback
After the conversations this week about reader interfaces and the phenomenology of reading, I re-read Colter's piece. Two things struck me: that the low-literacy population represents an under-served market; and that we need to design content (including its interface) along the lines of what I described in "The opportunity in abundance".
That is, we need to make reading more satisfying, with a better hope for success and with stronger social connections than this audience has to date been afforded. If we can crack that code, though, we potentially open up a market whose needs have been only partly met for decades or more.