[linux-elitists] A modest proposal to web designers of the world (was Re: Site feedback: fonts too small)

Aaron Sherman ajs@ajs.com
Wed May 16 14:20:07 PDT 2001

On Wed, May 16, 2001 at 01:42:37PM -0700, Karsten M. Self wrote:

> In which case there is a problem in that Verdana is either not widely
> available or is inconsistantly rendered across platforms.  I realize the
> arguments in favor of using Verdana and other designed-for-the-screen
> fonts, but frankly, readability arguments fall flat in the face of the
> obvious:  they're not readable except on a specially targetted set of
> platforms.

I don't know what I have that might be wierd, but under Red Hat 7.1 +
Ximian 1.4, my Mozilla expereince on economist.com seems to be quite
pleasant. The font sizes on their home page range from the headlines
(font face="verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif" size="+1"), which are
fairly large to lead-ins for their lead articles (font
face="verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif" size="-1") to the lead-ins for
the rest of the articles (font face="verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif"

Their page layout seems to aim itself at readability and those human
factors concerns which have been honed throughout the centuries in which
print media has dominated the world's "events awareness". I notice
that they restrict width a little less than many sites, which I
appreciate. I always get frustrated when someone wants my eye to
have to scan back and forth 20 times a second just to read the text.

I still don't like the X fonts, but they're a hell of a lot better
than they were back in the mists, or even a few years ago.

> I'd strongly recommend you pass the following link around your design
> department:
>     http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/opti.html
>     "This page optimized for ..."
>     - arguing with customers -
>     by Jahn Rentmeister
>     This page dates back from September 1996, and a lot has happened
>     since then. Some changes have been made to this text, especially in
>     the section of examples, where I tried to reflect changes on the
>     example sites. From my point of view, the state of the Web has
>     improved a lot since I wrote this article, so you might find the
>     discussion exaggerated or unnecessary (although I think it still
>     isn't).

This is always good stuff, but there's a point of diminishing returns
when it comes to placating the "our image must be perfect" executives
and the "we must be able to use any browser" users.

As far as I can tell, the Economist seems to be striking that balance
quite well....

Was that not an elitist enough reply? ;-)

Aaron Sherman		
ajs@ajs.com		finger ajskey@b5.ajs.com for GPG info. Fingerprint:
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	"I want a drug store in The Twilight Zone." -Shriekback

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