Old webdesign grudge

Let me see if anyone agrees. A suggestion for web designers (and I mean all the bloggers out there, too): make the main text on your blog look good in your browser(s) by setting the default fonts (and mainly sizes) in the browser settings, not in the page's CSS. Read on for the reasoning.

Reading through various blogs I really appreciate the way my browser remembers zoom factor for various pages because the designers really, but really need to make their pages' fonts small - not good for us nearly blind people. As an example, here's a post on Stefan Tilkov's blog that I read because it contains useful links and thoughts, but my zoom factor is at 170% to achieve my preferred font size. Mind you, my default font in my browser is in my preferred font size so on a web page with no font size changes for the main text (like, ehm, my blog) the zoom factor will be 100%. I have no idea why Stefan doesn't just set his browser's defaults right and why he imposes that size on everybody.

Stefan's case is simple, though, I just set the zoom as necessary and don't think of this any more. But now I noticed on a post on Sam Ruby's blog that the code exerpts in text (like variable names etc.) are bigger than default size, but normal text is at default size. Now this indicates Sam has only one font (default for monospace font) set too small so he makes it 120% bigger in normal text. Now that's great because on my settings either the normal text is OK and the variable names stick out or the normal text is small but the variable names are OK if I play with zoom. Now come on guys, why are you doing this?

I'm not against using different font sizes, but for accessibility (and I'm not even considered disabled yet) it's good to make the main textual content in the bloody default size, that's why it's there, right?

Posted at 1216 on Thu, Apr 21, 2005 in category Personal | TrackBack | Comments feed

Well, at least I'm not alone:


Would it be better from your perspective if I used em units instead of pixels? If I did, would you expect me to leave the body text size at 1em?

I definitely do appreciate the feedback - I'd love to do what's right, I just don't know what it is :-)

Posted by: Stefan Tilkov at April 21, 2005 10:29 PM

Hi Stefan, I thought I submitted my comment and then I didn't, so here goes again. 8-)

To answer your questions: not necessarily and yes: I would expect you to leave the body text size at 1em, but how you choose the other sizes depends on the context; text that is somehow combined with the body text (listings, perhaps) should use em units to follow the default settings; text in a box wide a specific number of pixels can have size specified in pixels as well, understandably.

The linked article says are good points that I disagree with. I see no excuse for toying with the size of the main textual content (body), which is expected to be read. The author of the article would call me naive, perhaps, but I do think the problem with the default being too big for most people (most of whom cannot be bothered to change their defaults) will go away gradually.

And finally wow! I didn't expect you guys to be so responsive to my grudge. 8-)

Posted by: jacek at April 22, 2005 2:02 PM