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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

is the text too small at this site?

I had a long conversation on Facebook this weekend with reader Konstantin, who had a complaint about the size of the text on FlickFilosopher.com. I wasn’t sure what sort of problem he was having, since I think the text looks pretty good, and no other reader has mentioned this as an issue. (Though, as I told Konstantin, that doesn’t mean that no one else is having a problem, only that they’ve haven’t told me.) The underlying theme is based on one from Elegant Themes, which are professionally designed, and though I’ve customized it quite a bit, I don’t think I’ve messed much, if at all, with the font sizes. So the font sizes should be optimized for comfortable reading.

Of course, everyone’s computer is set up differently, and there are probably an infinite number of combinations of screen resolution, browser settings, and other variables that influence what everything on your computer looks like. But Konstantin explained that most other sites look okay on his screen, but that the text here is uncomfortably small. On my end, I do have, in my browser, my site zoomed to 125 percent, though I don’t know if this is any indication that the text is too small, because I also need that zoom on the WordPress backend, which is just the standard way WP comes (so I would presume that that is also optimized for the comfort of most users). And I have a lot of sites zoomed in, because I’ve been dealing with the standard deterioration of eyesight as you get older. (I’ve been wearing glasses for reading and for any up-close work for about six years now, and have already had one bump up in my prescription. It’s getting hard to read almost anything up close anymore without my glasses.)

What do you think? How do you feel about the size of the text across the site, especially the body text (for example, the main text in a review)? Is it too small?

As I told Konstantin, I tried messing around with the size of the body text, and increasing the size — if that’s what I end up doing — is going to be a lot more involved than simply bumping up that one number: it affects the design of the whole site, and it will take a lot of tweaking. Everything will have to be reoptimized to look good as a package. So it’s not something I can do in five minutes. But I am very curious to hear everyone’s feedback about whether this is something I need to take care of.

In the meantime, if you do find the text too small, if you’re on a Mac, in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, you can zoom in on a Web site using Command-+, which affects only the particular site you zoom in on: it will not change the way other sites look. (I have no way of testing this on a PC, sorry. But I assume there is a similar capability.)

UPDATE: It’s sounding to me like it would probably be a good idea to bump up the text size across the site. So I’ll carve out some time to do that. But please keep checking in with comments, if you like.

UPDATE 11.16.16: This issue has now been dealt with. See an explanation of the changes here.

posted in:
maryann buzz
  • RogerBW

    The polite thing to do would be to use default text size, and font, rather than overriding it with your chosen elements – because the user can configure their browser for a text style that is comfortable for them. But approximately no site does this any more; looking pretty is now considered more important than being universally readable.

    It’s fine for me, but I had my eyes lasered last year. At least you’re not dropping the contrast the way so many sites do.

  • Jurgan

    I seem to have in at 120%, so I guess I like it a little bigger, but I don’t mind zooming in.

  • Looking good *is* important on the Web! There’s already so much competition that a crappy-looking site is an automatic turnoff for many, perhaps most, users.

  • susmart3

    When the day comes that I am too lazy to increase screen size to read an article, I should just go away voluntarily. I think the size is *fine.*

  • the body copy is on the small side for me

  • Bluejay

    Font size is fine, and it’s super-easy to just use “command-plus” or “command-minus” to adjust size to personal preference. Your font size is pretty much the same as the one NPR uses, though they use a font that I find slightly more readable (Times New Roman?). That doesn’t mean the font here ISN’T readable, though; it’s fine.

  • bronxbee

    the typeface on Disqus is quite clear and concise. *sometimes* (and this might just be aging eyesight) i do find the text in the actual post to be a bit small and “fussy” – the serifs seem to run together. again, i blame this on my eyes) this is on the mac… i will check the site on the PC at work. but i do increase the size from time to time.

  • It’s fine in Chrome, but I find it a little too small for comfort in Firefox.

  • Ralph

    For Windows (Chrome/Firefox/IE/Edge) CTRL+ the mouse wheel will zoom in/out. Or +/- if you have no mouse wheel.

    The body font here is slightly small in comparison to other sites, but I’m fine with it without a zoom. It’s slightly unusual that the comments font is several points larger than the article text – reverse of the usual visual emphasis.

  • Well, unfortunately, most people — including most people surfing the Web — are not very tech literate. So most people won’t even be aware of the zoom capability.

  • Bluejay

    Looking at this more, I wonder if the problem isn’t font size but font type. Your font size is comparable to that on John Scalzi’s blog:


    …but the font he uses looks slightly heavier and darker, which some people might find more readable in small sizes. (His background is also a brighter white, so the text/background contrast is slightly sharper.)

  • susmart3

    The deaf and/or blind people who I’ve worked with don’t grouse about their technology, it is a godsend for them. They learn to configure their preferences, because they have to. Now, people expect *everything* to be Just To Their Liking, without having to do the most minimal of “work.” Instead of “surfing the web,” maybe they need to dip their toes into the water.

  • Danielm80

    So you’re going with the “People are starving in China” argument? The size of a typeface is clearly not a major life problem, but if the site is difficult to read and MaryAnn can change that without a lot of hassle, she’ll make some people’s lives easier, and she might gain a few readers.

  • susmart3

    No, I’m going with the argument that her typeface is certainly within the acceptable guidelines of websites, and IF she changes it, she may make those several people happy, but then, she may make *other* people- those who are quite happy with the look and feel of it- *unhappy.*

    She won’t “gain” any *NEW* readers from changing it. And if her readers are so unwilling to make a *minor adjustment* to their own computer, then maybe it’s not that big a loss.

    But that’s her call, not mine.

  • I’ll look into possibly changing the typeface.

  • LaSargenta

    I haven’t found it too small. Fwiw. But, I can see that maybe some people would. (If you’re taking a poll.)

  • Beowulf

    I may have to resort to a reading magnifying glass for TIME and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, but I have no problems reading anything on your site, MA.

  • For the benefit of anyone following along via Disqus, I’ve now dealt with the type-size issue. An explanation of the changes:


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