ClaroRead and Dragon text readers

by Rhodri Buttrick on 30 November 2010

Due to my dyslexia, reading large amounts of text can be very difficult. To get round this problem, I usually use a text reader on the computer which reads aloud  to me. There are two main text readers I use, ClaroRead and the text reader built into Dragon Naturally Speaking. Both text readers are good but are useful  in different situations.

The Dragon Naturally Speaking text reader does not have quite as realistic a voice as Claro read but it’s still very easy to understand. I use this mainly when proofreading my work. I use speech recognition and  it occasionally mishears what I’m saying, so having the computer read back what I’ve written is  the most effective way of spotting these speech recognition errors. If I were to read the text myself, I would probably not notice most of the errors. It is convenient to use the Dragon Naturally Speaking text reader in this situation as it means I do not have to open another application. As Dragon can be quite heavy on the computer system resources, having to open only one application is very useful.

The advantage of ClaroRead is that it can read from virtually anything, be it a web page and Internet browser, a Word document or a PDF file. This is particularly useful when I am doing research for university and have to read a long article from the Internet. It saves me the nuisance of having to cut and paste text into a Word document and getting Dragon to read it to me. By far the most useful feature of ClaroRead is the ability to connect to a scanner, scanning pages of text and have it convert the text into a Word document. My course Philosophy, demands a fair amount of reading.  This method of scanning my books and getting the computer to read it to me is the easiest and most effective way of getting through my course reading.

2010 has been a really interesting year forecommerce. The economic picture is still not rosy and web managers have been under increasing pressure to halt the decline in traffic.

For years the online channel had been experiencing meteoric growth and web marketers could do no wrong – build and they will come. However, as the economy beat a hasty retreat, consumers became more conservative and looked to the web to research ways to save money. Voucher code sites blossomed. The number of searches declined and more people used long tail search terms to find what they wanted. In the email industry, open and click rates suffered. Blanket emails, once the preserve of the majority of retailers, suddenly stopped returning a profit.  The UK affiliate space became cluttered with discount websites.

The net result has been the need for digital marketers to be savvier, using Internet technology to increase personalisation and segment offers. It’s common sense but the margins are now so much tighter that it can’t be ignored. As the Board increases its scrutiny of the numbers, web managers are under more pressure than ever to deliver. The industry is maturing and a more commercial model is emerging; about time too.

As a result, there is an increased demand from employers for commercial skills like business analysis and financial planning. Web managers must be multi-disciplined, understanding digital marketing whilst knowing how to manage the numbers. Web analytics and website optimisation is more important than ever and investment in these areas is, thankfully, on the rise.

What remains to be seen is how far web teams will go with the unglamorous side of ecommerce. We’re predicting that site optimisation, investment in mobile platforms (including tablet devices) and better integration of social media with customer service will be key themes for 2011.

Our Webcredible article takes a look at why these trends are likely to be important in 2011.

Please drop by and share your comments.

Photo credit: danielbroche via Flickr/Creative Commons

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