[thelist] Font Sizing

Arlen.P.Walker at jci.com Arlen.P.Walker at jci.com
Tue May 7 17:22:01 CDT 2002

>> The answer to both those issues is simple: "Yes, very true.  So what?"
>I didn't realize that this was such a religious issue.  I guess I haven't
>been around long enough.

'S OK. Religious discussions can occasionally be useful. What you should
take away from this is that there really *is* no absolutely right answer,
given the current state of the art.

You want an answer anyway? Use ems. Why? Because I said so. (That's as good
a reason as any others that have popped up here on that question, and I can
say that without even being egotistical. Pixels, ems, percentages, points
-- all have problems and none of them work perfectly.)

We had a discussion not too long ago about how pixels weren't even a fixed
size (as witness Opera/Mac) because the W3C spec left the actual ratio of
document pixels to screen pixels up to the user agent.

>My point was only that when I design a site, I am trying to balance
>aesthetics with usability.  With this goal in mind, I must consider if the
>benefits of making something more aesthetically pleasing outweighs the
>from less usability. If so, it makes sense to make the trade-off.

And so you factor into your decision the simple fact the you do not have
the power to decide how big the text letters are going to be on any
particular viewer's screen. You are allowed to make suggestions about it,
which many browsers will follow, but you do *not* have the authority to
decide how big the text is on my screen. Yes, it's your document and your
design, but it's *my* screen, and *my* eyes, so *I* have the last word.

To help you decide if you've made the right tradeoffs, go ahead and tweak
things as a user, just to see how bad you can screw the design up. Try to
limit the damage such choices do to your design, not by forbidding those
choices, but by working with them.

I've intended for quite some time now to do a design completely in ems,
right down to the image sizes, just to see if I could create a design that
would completely scale with the base font. No idea how it would turn out,
but it's one of those things I'm going to try when the odd moment comes
along (probably after I've become a grandfather).

>As such, they already have tweaked their browsers to
>account for this issue, and I can safely ignore it.

Some designers want me to adjust things on my end so I can see what they've
done. No idea who they might be; I haven't stayed around long enough to
find out. You see, that's the problem with depending on me to correct such
things. There are so *many* web pages out there that there's just no
percentage in my spending time changing my browser settings so I can view
the text on a page; I'll just move on to the next. You see, if I haven't
been able to read the page, I don't know if there's anything there which
would repay the effort. Most of the time (unless you're a Googlewhack)
there's another site out there with similar information or products, which
will let me read it without making me take extra steps. So I'll go there,

If your font size tells me you don't care, my back button says "same to
you, *and* the horse you rode in on!"

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen.P.Walker at JCI.Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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