The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Thursday, 14 October 2010]

We read, we screed

Nic tilts at windmills about readability on the Web.

I realize this post paints me as a member of a tiny and inconsequential minority: People who like to read. But that’s okay. Every once in a while we need to show the world we’re out there. “We read, we screed,” that kind of thing.

See, when I visit your website, what I want to do is read your content. That’s why I’m there. That’s why I’m even seeing your website in all its glory.

So I really don’t care how great your site looks and how many things are moving around and how many links to wonderful things are scattered all about the place. I want to read your content.

Of course, I want that content to be presented in a nice way. And by nice, I mean only two things: Not an eyesore and not unreadable. You accomplish those two things, bully for you. I’m there, and I’m reading.

And of course, I want it to have proper spelling and grammar and for the design to be at a minimum of attractiveness. Which means you can’t fire your Web designer and use 24 point Comic Sans. There’s a baseline, and you need a designer to get you there.

But they’re tricky criteria, aren’t they? Who decides what’s an eyesore? Who decides what’s unreadable?

The answer is simple: I do.

For me.

The next person who clicks a link that deposits them on your site makes their own judgment call. Which is probably different from mine. Which is okay. That’s life.

I would so love it if every Web designer out there could throw off their shackles and start focusing on readability. That is, if you want your site to be read. If you’re doing funky art and you want to transmit a feeling or some other touchy-feely thing, that’s great. Rock on. But if you want people—the ones behind the browsers—to read your work, it’s seriously time to get back to readability as a measuring gauge.

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