The Latest Web Design “F U”

Monday, 18 July 2005 at 5:00 am Pacific USA Time.

Once again, I’m a WebAward judge. You can stop applauding now. :) I like it mostly because once a year, I step out of my industry and hobbies, and see what other people think is fabulous web design. All of these entries submitted themselves (and paid to do so) because they want to win an award. They don’t want critique or marketing help. They want an award.

So I review around 30 sites each year that are everything from fashion to gaming to cancer care to civil liberties to content for teens and more. It’s all over the place. Yet, there is one thing many websites now have in common.

Microscopic type.

Many websites are putting content either in HTML or Flash at this size. Why? One of the great advantages of the web is that you’re not paying per inch or per word. Nothing stops you from making the decision to make it a readable size for the widest target audience. Back to a readable size. :)

One site I was shown this year was for a new type of tire from a well-known name brand. The site kept saying that this was the great all-weather tire for your luxury car, and showed middle-aged people in a luxury car. Once you got past the colorful pictures, the text was TINY. Do people think that your average fifty-something-year-old can easily and comfortably read the above-sized text without leaning in and kissing the computer screen?

When I see tiny type like that, I think of it as a f*** you. It tells me that some designer decided that it’s better to have the visual effect (blindness?) of the tiny type than to make the site comfy and accessible to more people. I’m age 33 with great vision, and I can’t comfortably read these things, so I guess if I were more hip, I’d be able to read it. I can only imagine how upset visually impaired people must be. Most of these fonts are set small in a way that going to my browser settings and going to largest font size doesn’t make them larger (they’re CSS or Flash).

So who’s the target audience for microscopic fonts? Who is that meant to reach? Who connects to that, and feels more comfortable reading that? If that’s so great, why don’t our newspapers publish at 7 points? Why show me a full 10 or 11 points? Do I now have to try to find "large-print" websites?

Bad marketing when you decide form over function or practicality or usability.

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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

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