Reading the Web

Interaction Design

Parsons School of Design
BFA Communication Design Thesis Project
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We look through texts, emails, webpages, and posts every day. Over the past decade, the experience of reading has progressively changed from a physical experience on paper to a digital experience on screens. What was once an active and deliberate act has now become a passive encounter. But how do these nonlinear experiences of moving across platforms and mediums create an entirely new reading experience? And are the acts of browsing, watching, and scanning redefining what it means to read?

Reading the Web is a personal reflection and interpretation of the discussion around digital reading brought about by the book I Read Where I Am: Exploring New Information Cultures. Through this project, I am re-interpreting a common web essay format into a curated digital experience by using my reflection text as the common narrative and navigation. By interacting with links that reveal digital references and reading across different online platforms, the reader gains awareness of the overall website narrative and their own digital journeys that are often overlooked.


The website takes the form of a scrolling web essay with my own written reflection as the main body, structure, and navigation of the website. I have also used essays from the book I Read Where I am as a layer of precedent discussion about digital reading.


Hyperlinks within the text become the interaction. Hyperlinks and superscripts, when clicked, reveal thumbnails of websites, posts, platforms, embedded media, and quotes. Each thumbnail is then linked to its outside source on the web.


The text is also able to be viewed across 45 different platforms on the internet. Each platform post is linked to another to show how we read across a live network. This utilizes default design systems found around the web in order to showcase the real world context of how we practice digital reading today.


Through researching I learned about this correlation between how information is organized and how we experience reading it. Digital "reading" has created a rapid increase in passive reading because the internet is organized and experienced non-linearly.


After looking at how hyperlinking has been visualized and how it informs website aesthetics today I mocked up several layouts of how text, hyperlinks, and websites could be laid out and visualized together. I tried to find the balance between a novel design-heavy visualization and a familiar systemized approach. Finally, I landed on an essay format with layered popups.