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  1. #1
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    "Let Users Control Font Size" - Nielsen

    Love him or hate him, here's a good article on text sizehere's a good article on text.

    His idea for a central database is prety loopy, but he has a point about using fluid text sizes. Small text has its place, but that place isn't "everywhere."

    I've always planned to put a Text + & - gadget on my pages to raise and lower the sizes on the fly, and on the few sites that I see it, it works well.

  2. #2
    Gone!
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    It may be okay for the browser to initially render the page with the designer's text size, but users should be able to easily enlarge text, no matter what the style sheet says. After all, it's my screen, my computer, and my software, and they should do what I say.
    Like that idea. If the designer specifies 12px, atm it displays at 12px no matter what IE users have there Font Size Option set to. I like this idea that it still loads with its CSS set px size and ignores the IE feature, but AFTER its loaded, users can then make changes like they can with nearly every other size dimension, should they wish to do so.

    A fair compromise in the current state of affairs?

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    i didnt think his bagging out of IE's method of adjusting fonts was called for, i mean there are 3 methods of adjusting font sizes, and not all visually impaired people are computer illiterate.

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    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by iTec
    i didnt think his bagging out of IE's method of adjusting fonts was called for, i mean there are 3 methods of adjusting font sizes, and not all visually impaired people are computer illiterate.
    "Called for"? I don't think it was a matter of it being uncalled for, since he's correct about the number of steps required. Sure, they all take microseconds on their own, but added up it becomes a matter of usability. I can understand where he's coming from, because I too get sick of all the extraneous icons thrust onto the default IE toolbars after a fresh install/upgrade. I always end up removing most of them, and always end up putting the textsize gadget.

    I guarantee that most people, if they know how to adjust font sizes at all, use the slower drop-down method. And I'll bet that real world examples of the average person going to the trouble of putting the textsizer on their toolbar are very rare, comparatively speaking.

    The number of people who know about adjusting the font size with a scrollwheel? Bah. Most people don't even have a scroll wheel yet.

    The first thing that would help would be to have the textsizer on the toolbar by default. Then, I agree with Glen, the adjustable "fixed" fontsize proposal would be a great compromise, if not outright solution.

    At least it's not like Opera... I remember I was excited about their fancy zoom feature for, oh, about 5 seconds until I realised how useless it really was. As an additional option it would be great, but forcing everything else to zoom with the text is one step forward followed by two steps backwards.
    Last edited by Arkham; Aug 19, 2002 at 11:32.

  5. #5
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Hey I got that in my inbox at work this morning... didn't know where it came from.


    Originally posted by glenplake

    I like this idea that it still loads with its CSS set px size and ignores the IE feature, but AFTER its loaded, users can then make changes like they can with nearly every other size dimension, should they wish to do so.

    A fair compromise in the current state of affairs?
    I agree with that one.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  6. #6
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by fatnewt
    Hey I got that in my inbox at work this morning... didn't know where it came from.
    By itself? Heh, probably a forgotten newsletter sub.

    I got mine in Tomalak's newsletter. (Great for daily headlines.)

  7. #7
    Former Staff Member silver trophy Adam P.'s Avatar
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    "Separate buttons no longer exist for text-bigger and text-smaller. If users can find it at all, they'll get a single button to control both directions of text change."

    Are you kidding? It's called being concise. I'm so sick of people complaining about having to click more than once to get something done.

    Anyways, right now my favorite way to allow users to change font size is to use alternate stylesheets which the users can choose by clicking different links -- basically the way that ALA does it.
    SPF Mentor/Advisor 2001-2003
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    AdamPolselli.com

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot GregShasta's Avatar
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    What's next buttons to change the colors of the menus? Kind of defeats the purpose of a webpage if it looks like a dvd remote. Who wants to read a bunch of expanded text on a big monitor? Not me.
    Greg
    'I guess that my ambition was to be a bum'--robert mitchum

  9. #9
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Arkham


    By itself? Heh, probably a forgotten newsletter sub.

    I got mine in Tomalak's newsletter. (Great for daily headlines.)

    I got this:


    Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for August 19 is now online at:
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20020819.html

    Summary:
    Tiny text tyrannizes users by dramatically reducing task throughput.
    IE4 had a great design that let users easily change font sizes;
    let's get this design back in the next generation of browsers.


    Usability Week 2002 - with three brand-new seminars

    Boston, New York, London, Silicon Valley

    Full-day tutorials with the results of our latest user research:
    * Intranet Usability
    * Flash Applications
    * E-Mail Newsletters

    Usability Week gives you a second chance to catch popular tutorials
    that were sold out at our last conference:
    * Usability Lifecycle
    * Accessibility
    * Information Architecture (2 days with Lou Rosenfeld)

    Full program:
    http://www.nngroup.com/events

    ---
    To subscribe send a blank email to join-alertbox@laser.sparklist.com
    To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-alertbox-4599527H@laser.sparklist.com
    [You are currently subscribed as *****]
    I don't reacall subscribing to this.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  10. #10
    . Ruchir's Avatar
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    well, the user decides the font size alright.. but wan't it matter to ur own design, wont the different font make the page look bad !
    Peace.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Exactly. Browser, OS, PC etc may belong to the user, but the web site they're visiting doesn't and many times the webmaster gives that content for free.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by fatnewt

    I got this:
    I don't reacall subscribing to this.
    Thats the email that Nielsen sends out to tell everyone to read his site, if you go to his site theres something there about unsubscribing from the alert box

  13. #13
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TechSited
    Exactly. Browser, OS, PC etc may belong to the user, but the web site they're visiting doesn't and many times the webmaster gives that content for free.
    Exactly, and once it's on their computer at home it's theirs to do with what they will. If you're impeding readability for the sake of design, the users have the right to make whatever alterations they need to. If there's no facility to do so, then the user can vote with his feet, er, eyes, and no longer visit or support that site. The fact remains that poor text balance, typography, design, and readability is a common problem on the net.

    It all works out, but Nielsen has a point about too many designers foisting nearly-illegible text on users who often have crappy monitors. The thing is, this isn't a matter of being right or wrong, it's a matter of being aware of the limitations of your audience. When you're running a graphic design-oriented website, chances are that your users will lean in that direction, and their hardware and expectations will follow suit. Tiny dark grey sans fonts are popular in cases like that, whereas text-based content sites make the extra effort to increase readability.

    Personally, because my site will be related to books, I'm going to make a font-size option clearly available, if not an entirely seperate set of styles with various sizes/fonts.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot GregShasta's Avatar
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    How many users are honestly using 15" monitors with 640x480 resolutions? Should they dictate the future of web design? Answer to both questions obviously no. How can you possibly design a site that isn't a template that has expandable text? You cant. Only compliance puritans and other nerds think that a website is 'perfect' once every user at every resolution can view your webpage. Christ, hey here's an idea why not spend the hours you spend on compliance with Opera(which no one uses) and use those hours submitting to search engines, buying advertising, or trading links. The fickle geeks who fret over NS3 really aren't worth adressing.
    Thx,
    Greg
    'I guess that my ambition was to be a bum'--robert mitchum

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GregShasta
    How many users are honestly using 15" monitors with 640x480 resolutions? Should they dictate the future of web design? ....
    Nobody has mentioned users on a 15" monitor with a resolution of 640x480, the ability to control font sizes is important, quite often i use it and i have pretty good vision and use a resolution of 1024x768. If a website has used fix pixels then fine, ill read it at that resolution and be happy, but cases such as Nielsens site where i find the text slightly to large i decrease the font size,

    as for how many people are still using a resolution of 640x480, roughly 3% of users according to thecounter.com
    15' monitors would still contain a very large portion of the monitor market due to the affordability of 15' LCD screens compared to the larger models, not to mention that not all net users have the urge to update there computers every second day.

    Only compliance puritans and other nerds think that a website is 'perfect' once every user at every resolution can view your webpage. Christ, hey here's an idea why not spend the hours you spend on compliance with Opera(which no one uses) and use those hours submitting to search engines, buying advertising, or trading links. The fickle geeks who fret over NS3 really aren't worth adressing.
    This to me shows that you dont quite understand what compliance with standards offers, Most compliant websites will crash and burn in netscape4 let alone Netscape 3, any oob33r geek can make a homepage that will render in all browsers the same using more pieces of proprietry html to bloat your code then you can poke a stick at. Try creating the same thing to compliance and you are forced to give up on non complying browsers (pretty much everything under V5). The result being that you get cleaner more efficient pages, with forward compatibility not backward compatibility.

    as for your idea on forgetting about standards and choosing to advertise and advertise and advertise, go read up a bit on any of the dotcom failures and look at what many of there big mistakes were. Managment stupidity wasting millions upon millions of dollars on advertising websites that were unusable and un accessible (Boo.com).

    whats the point in advertising a site if its un-usable?

  16. #16
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GregShasta
    How many users are honestly using 15" monitors with 640x480 resolutions? Should they dictate the future of web design? Answer to both questions obviously no. How can you possibly design a site that isn't a template that has expandable text? You cant. Only compliance puritans and other nerds think that a website is 'perfect' once every user at every resolution can view your webpage.
    You don't seriously think we were talking about 640x480 do you? We're talking a popular average of 800x600 -- and even on 1024x768, pages with a bad font balance can be troublesome. I don't mind small text, but too many designers think the smaller the text, the cooler the page. Bzzzt, wrong.

    Generally, pages with a lot of text content should not force a micro font on everyone without making it scalable. If it's a niche site that has different expectations, that's fine, but, whoah, relax with the hostility... Font scaling is not the enemy of graphic web design.

    Who was talking about 100% compliance and NS3, anyway? Sounds like you had some baggage you wanted to unload.
    Last edited by Arkham; Aug 22, 2002 at 09:58.

  17. #17
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GregShasta
    How many users are honestly using 15" monitors with 640x480 resolutions? Should they dictate the future of web design? Answer to both questions obviously no.

    Uhm... you can't answer "no" to the first question! It demands a quantity, not yes or no.....


    Anyways..

    I use my girlfriend's computer alot, it has a 15" monitor.

    And one of my computers at home has a cheap monitor that can't go higher than 640x480. Now I know that I should upgrade it, but still.

    Laptops have small displays, that are often hard to see for some people.

    Keep these things in mind.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Nielsen is completely right on this one. I have no impairments (20/20 vision) yet my greatest annoyance is small text. When designers specify fonts in px or put the text in images, it will look good on their computer only. Change anything--DPI, resolution, screen size, typeface, distance from monitor, eyesight, platform, browser, settings, etc.--and the page will become a nightmare.

    The only solution for now is to use Javascript and CSS to create "+" and "-" buttons for font size. Until people regain trust in the browser's font size controls (which don't work with px right now), they won't care to try them.

  19. #19
    will code HTML for food Michel V's Avatar
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    Just for sake of making a pun, since Jakob's domain is 'useit', I say 'use em' !
    Specifying fontsize in ems is great

    (Only Win-IE doesn't resize text in px, stupid browser !)


    (edit: stupid typos)
    Last edited by Michel V; Aug 25, 2002 at 12:09.
    [blogger: zengun] [blogware contributor: wordpress]

  20. #20
    SitePoint Guru
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    I would love to use em, but like a lot of people, I have a world of trouble getting it right. I'm using px because that's the only thing I've found that seems to be about the same in all major browsers - when I do it. I know that some people are successful with em. I think Nielson is absolutely right and his solution is perfect. I certainly don't mind people resizing my text if they need to. I hate tiny fonts myself and use 13 px for most text, but some people might need it larger. To tell the truth, if it weren't for the fact that the young designers with perfect eyesight that he mentions had made large text so uncool, I'd just leave the main text the default size and use small, big, etc when I needed it. Unfortunately, that's so out of style you really can't do it.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot GregShasta's Avatar
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    Oh of course what wasn't I thinking? How silly for a webmaster to actually focus on things that matter like traffic and promotion. Note to self: catch up on mozilla volume 3 documentation.
    Greg
    'I guess that my ambition was to be a bum'--robert mitchum

  22. #22
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GregShasta
    Oh of course what wasn't I thinking? How silly for a webmaster to actually focus on things that matter like traffic and promotion.
    Usability and readability don't matter, eh? Pass some of that along, I'll have a puff too...

    Maybe you should re-think your priorities. Traffic and Promotion come after your site is developed and usable. You work from the ground up, otherwise you have a weak foundation and, well, boom.

    We're talking about design considerations... If you've already dealt with the usability and readability issues, then of course traffic/promotion is more important. No one here has said otherwise.

    But if usability/readability is still a problem, you have to focus on that first. That's what we're discussing. If a site has these weaknesses, there really shouldn't be a big push for traffic until these things are addressed.

    Man, that's the problem with the net these days. Everything is rush rush rush, money money money.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Zealot GregShasta's Avatar
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    Most sitepoint users are designing(if they are designers) small websites. Now, why would you spend your time devising various geegaws(text resizers and soforce) versus hitting search engines hard, buying ads, or trading links? All a matter of priority one supposes.

    Tell me how you can make money gabbing away about 'compliance' and i'll gladly jump on board. Till then.............
    Greg
    'I guess that my ambition was to be a bum'--robert mitchum

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard Ian Glass's Avatar
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    Greg, what's the point of marketing a site that no one wants to use?

    ~~Ian

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GregShasta
    Tell me how you can make money gabbing away about 'compliance' and i'll gladly jump on board. Till then.............
    Greg
    Money can buy you visitors, but money cant buy you repeat visitors. Treat the ones you get to your site right and they will come back, Dont consider them, and they wont return, simple as that


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