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

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Wed May 16 14:59:48 PDT 2001

on Wed, May 16, 2001 at 05:20:07PM -0400, Aaron Sherman (ajs@ajs.com) wrote:
> 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"
> size=-2).

Well, then, how does RH's X fonts configuration (I've also heard
reasonably good things about Mandrake, IIRC) that's different from the
rest of the GNU/Linux distros?  In particular, my experience on Debian
has been that web fonts tend to be pretty well fscked.   If some of the
GNU/Linux distros have worked this out, why can't the rest share the

I might also ask those reading this to take a quick peek at
http://www.infoworld.com/, which is one of the more poorly designed
sites to grace the web recently.  Reports from IE/Legacy MS Windows and
Mac would also be of interest.  If you can host a screenshot on some
webpace, say, 800x600, please do.  My own is at:


> 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.

Aside from fonts, the page design is OK.  I also happen to like
http://www.sfgate.com/, which is far better than either the Chronicle's
or SJ Merc's site.

> 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.

> 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.

I'm going to accept the fact that the zex are idiots.  What I'd like is
for their idiocy to translate reasonably well across platforms.  This
calls for some general edification on the part of designers.  Broken
desing ain't gonna work, but if the design looks _reasonably_ good on
one platform, and isn't predicated on platform/browswer idiosyncrasies,
it should translate well to others.  This isn't currently the case.

Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>    http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/         http://www.kuro5hin.org
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