Making other people's websites look how I want them to look

People spend a lot of time making their websites look how they think they should look.

I want their websites to look that I think they should look: dark themes, and no distractions.

And, overall, I’m pretty successful, for not a huge amount of effort.

Successful to the point where, when I see other people’s browsers, especially those who browse the web without ad blockers, I wonder how on earth they manage, or how people manage to produce such dreadful websites.

RSS where I can

I read a lot of online stuff via RSS, especially sites which post regular updates (e.g. news sites, like 404Media, which has now launched a full-text RSS feed for paying subscribers!), as well as blogs.

I use FreshRSS as the aggregator, and I use its web UI when reading feeds on my computer, and FeedMe on my phone.

By using RSS, I get just the bare content of the site, rendered by my RSS viewer in a consistent manner. I love it.

Not all sites offer RSS, but with FreshRSS, I can do a reasonable job of creating one.

Similarly, not all sites offer full-text via RSS and, again, I can use FreshRSS to approximate that for me.

Terminal browsers

I use terminal browsers - links or lynx, usually - a fair amount.

White text on a black page, no images. Lovely.

Sadly, not all designers make their sites work well with such simple browsers but, on the whole, I have a pretty good experience.

Firefox and add-ons

I am a long time happy user of Firefox. And I was really chuffed when Mozilla enabled better support for add-ons in Firefox for Android.

When I browse using Firefox, I use three main add-ons to help make sites look the way I want them to look:

Dark Reader

Most sites are far to light-themed for my liking. I’ve a strong preference for sites which use CSS which adapts the theme according to my operating system’s light/dark mode choice.

Using Dark Reader, I can set things to a rough approximation of how I’d like them with basically zero effort, giving me default “dark mode” theme across the web.

It is not perfect - not all sites work well with it, and the dark mode isn’t quite how I would have it in my ideal world - but, for the effort of simply installing an add-on, it makes such a difference.

Now, even if you’ve designed your website to be light, it looks dark to me.

uBlock Origin

I use uBlock Origin to block ads and other distractions, in combination with a Pi-Hole for network-level, DNS-based, blocking.

If a site is annoying me despite the default uBlock rules, I use the element picker to remove the bits that I don’t want to see.

Annoyingly intrusive side bar? Bye bye!

Logo at the top too big? Now there’s no logo at all…

And so on.

It makes such a difference, and is pretty successful in making even the most annoying of sites readable, again with very little effort.

I’ve yet to find a way to block the BBC’s highly annoying nag-window, prompting me to create an account. I’ve managed to block it from being visible, but it still disrupts the page, such that I cannot scroll until I reload the page. There must be a script that I’m failing to block but, so far, no luck.


For sites which I use a lot, and where Dark Reader and uBlock Origin don’t do quite what I want, I use Stylus.

Stylus lets me redefine the CSS for the site, so I can tinker with things.

For example, I use it to make more readable.

I have to be reasonably motivated to bother doing this but, for sites that I access a lot, it is worth the effort.