[thelist] "Web 2.0 sites with the big friendly fonts"

Dennis Lapcewich dlapcewich at fs.fed.us
Wed Feb 21 16:11:06 CST 2007

There is an anecdotal story that says Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys
delayed any attempts to move their music to stereo because Brian was deaf
in one ear and the other ear wasn't up to scratch either.  So any qualities
that stereo music could offer made no sense to him.  The reality is Brian
as the genius songwriter / editor / producer wanted everyone to hear his
music *exactly* at as he thought it should be heard. He wanted total
control.  In time, Brian saw the error of such short-sighted thinking, only
to produce the greatest rock and roll album ever.   Some (many?) of you may
be too young to appreciate such genius, but anyone today who creates and
produces their own music does so because of Wilson's efforts.

If web users couldn't change settings for themselves, the browser makers
would never have created the ability for them to do it in the first place.
Just as a decent stereo system has indents for the treble, bass and balance
settings to create an optimum sound, everyone's tastes are different, not
to mention the location of where they hear the sound.  So a stereo user is
able to adjust the music to suit their own tastes.  But the music creator
still has to offer it at an optimum setting for so many listeners who never
change the base settings nor may have the ability to do so.

Such it is with font sizes.  Any decent web analysis, as well as any
ongoing feedback from users should tell the web designer what works for the
intended audience, as well as what works to make the site grow.  Throw in
demographics as tastes morph and people age, and your optimum setting
should also change.  It's called honest marketing.

For the most part font sizes should reflect the optimum indent settings for
a browser.  Leave it up to individual users if they want to adjust font
sizes outside of the optimum setting.  The key is to really know what those
optimum setting are for your site, and what you hope to achieve, especially
when you go out on a limb.  Just don't ignore usability studies, human
nature and common sense.  Otherwise, your site will end up as the latest
fad that burns out as fast as a black hole turns into a white dwarf.  Fad
sites clog the web and probably are worth no more than the insulin shock
they generate.  But trend sites succeed and last a very long time without
spiking your interest.


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