WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: browser zoom VS text zoom


From: Steve Green
Date: Nov 29, 2013 6:22PM

The problem with your suggestion is that it only works if every website in the world is designed well. Non-responsive websites *should* accommodate text resizing but we all know that a large proportion of them do not. If users do not have the option to select zoom, those sites will not be usable.

Steve Green

-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Alastair Campbell
Sent: 30 November 2013 00:38
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] browser zoom VS text zoom

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.