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browser zoom VS text zoom


From: Alastair Campbell
Date: Nov 29, 2013 5:37PM

Apologies for jumping on an old thread, but I had an idea.

We were discussing zoom vs text sizing, and I was positive about responsive
design when used with browser zoom.

As a designer/developer you tend to either use responsive techniques and
manage the layout at different sizes, or you have to allow for text-size
increases (although more likely you bother).

However, as a user how do you know what the website is doing? Do you try
one and then the other?
Just using text-size will create unusable responsive sites, and just zoom
will leave you with lots of horizontal scrolling.

Then it occurred to me (in the pub with friends) that there is a very
obvious signal from the website about the best type of sizing to use: the
meta-viewport tag.

If a site is responsive, it will use:
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width">

Therefore the browser could default to zoom. If it doesn't use that value,
text-sizing would be more appropriate.

Can you foresee situations when that wouldn't work, or make things worse?

The only one I can think of is that for narrow sites (e.g. 800px wide in a
large browser window) then zooming without responsive design can be ok, as
it just fills the window.

Overall, it seems like you could remove the browser control for switching
to text size, and use the meta viewport as the signal to change behaviour.