text-first design

From IndieWeb

Text-first design refers to the practice of designing information and UIs so they are readable/usable/actionable at least as basic plain text. It is also a form of progressive enhancement for content and interaction, first created as plain text, adding increasing amounts of non-text content such as hyperlinks or images, then layout and other styling.


News Sites

Both CNN and NPR have entire text-only sites with text-only articles etc. that load and render very quickly. More examples that are text-centric:

Pre-web examples

Pre-web examples of plain text publishing are a useful source of empirical examples of explicit formatting using only plain text.



Much/most of this was written pre-web (1987-1993), lots of formatting conventions in the examples therein. LOD was constructed by various authors; apparently each author had their own formatting styles. For example:

   Test Sets
   Test Sets

   Test Sets

can all mean something we'd now refer to as H2; therefore it offers a wide choice of readable text formatting.


I am including this one not for it's subject matter, but rather as an example of block-quotes and paragraph styling that was common back in the day of 80 column displays and Courier-only printers...


Quotes with attribution:

   "Dialectics is the soul of Marxism." [Stalin, _Problems of Leninism_, 1940]


         On CNN (11:30 a.m., EDT, Apr.13, 1993), former Stanford Univ. English
   professor, H. Bruce Franklin, discussed the recent controversy over the Soviet
   document on U.S. Vietname POWS.


Posts about text first design:

See Also