My What Big Font You Have!
 In WordPress

Pet Peeve Alert: Websites with Unreadable Text

My What Big Font You HaveWhy would you want to go through the trouble of writing blog posts, or telling someone about your business but make the font so small, and the text so crammed in, that no one can/will actually read it? When text is small visitors take one look, decide it is too much trouble and move on. And it only makes it worse if the text is light on a dark background.


Let me tell you. It is not just me, Oliver Reichenstein of the design firm, Information Architects, is on a mission that as a blogger, and content marketer, I can get behind. It is called 100% Easy-2-Read (#100E2R).

Reichenstein says if you want people to read the content on the website, the font should be 16 pixels. To some people 16px font on a website looks like clown sized font. But, in fact, it is the same size as 11px font in a magazine, which we are accustomed to reading. Check it out for yourself if you don’t believe it.

When designing sites, do away with the idea that scrolling is bad. These days, people scroll vertically with a swipe of the finger or roll of the mouse. With the right site design, you will have lots of real estate to play with. Then you can incorporate larger font, more space between the lines, images with text wrapped around them and lots of white space.

Sometimes the font is tiny because the designer thought it looked good that way. But I say, “Get a new designer”. We have been working with a client who has over a hundred web pages with 12px font and lots of text. The design of the site has everything above the fold with dense lines of text.

We are in the process of redesigning the site to have a long page style with 16px font. I know it will make a huge difference for this company. For one thing, the team members will be more motivated to write blog posts when the site design and font size invites visitors to read the content.

A Smashing Magazine article points out Readership = Revenue

They say:

. . . we shouldn’t take our clients’ money and then design websites for them that will make their visitors uncomfortable. Our personal tastes are not more important than best practices in usability. We are designing for function not for aesthetics. It is just that simple. #100E2R

Seven Tips for Website Readability:

  1. Use 14 – 16px font.
  1. Leading or spacing between lines of text should be 1.4% of the font size
  1. Provide plenty of white space around the copy.
  1. Make content columns no wider than 600px and add images aligned left with text wrap so your content is easier to read.
  1. Use dark text on white or light background.
  1. Use readable fonts. Serif or sans serif are better than script which is harder to read for copy.
  1. Don’t stair step your images in the post content. It can be difficult to align multiple images on a WordPress post or page easily using just the text editor. If you want to add multiple images to a page or post, use a plugin or software like Ribbit, which will make a collage of images for you and add the text above or below the collage.

Do you have any pet peeves or tips of your own? I’d love to hear about them!

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  • Yazmin

    Interesting article and I would love for it to still be true, as I am drawn to websites with larger type. However, this article is from back in 2006. I’d be curious to see what the latest data says for the suggestions he made for websites back then.

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