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RE: Font Resizers (WAS RE: back to top)


From: John Foliot - WATS.ca
Date: Jan 15, 2006 8:00AM

Austin, Darrel wrote:
> Everyone WANTS thorough documentation. Few use it. I'm guilty as much
> as anyone. I'll search google before opening the manual most of the
> time.

Thus the relatively well-known acronym RTFM - used daily in support
centres around the world.

> My dad squints all the time using his computer. I, of course, show
> him how to use better browsers, change his window's default fonts,
> etc, but he quickly reverts back to just accepting the squinting
> method.
> So, yea, he could still squint through my site, but maybe he'd see
> the resizer, and maybe he'd use it, and maybe that'd make him feel
> better about the user experience we provided.

Or maybe he'd cuss under his breath (or loudly, as I often hear in my
office) about the "cruddy web site" and simply move on. There are
millions of web sites available these days, and the good ones rise to
the top, and the lousy ones sink like a rock - search engines see to
that. Given the well documented aging of our population (at least here
in North America), good design shops will understand that making "fine
print" may be esthetically pretty, but functionally useless: part of the
issue is knowing your clientele.

>> They might, if you have
>> set font-size: 75% or something; but then you are to be
>> blamed for creating a problem and then adding a pitiful
>> partial solution that creates new problems.
> There's also the debate as to what size should web developers be
> defaulting their web text sizes to. Unfortunately, there is no right
> answer to that debate at this time.

And here-in is the very real problem - "designers" who presume that the
browser default size is "too big", and set base font sizes to 75% or 80%
(or .75em / .8em).

The W3C has specified 16px/96ppi as a standard default text size, and
most modern browsers on the Macintosh and Windows platforms have honored
that specification since 2000*. Start there!

If power users find that text "too large" they will re-size it
accordingly in their browser. I have rarely heard people complain about
text that is too large, it's usually that it is too small. The real
problem (IMHO) is 20-something "designers" who think that the look
should trump the content - WRONG! So Darrel, not to be contradictory, I
personally think that the debate *has* been answered: start at a base
font of 100% (which according to the W3C is 16px/96ppi).

Standards are my friend!

Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
Phone: 1-613-482-7053

(* See the W3C CSS1 Specifications at
www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-CSS1-19990111#length-units plus the Errata Notice
correcting the original CSS1 spec.