Why We Should Not Ignore Readability

Image: usabilitygeek
Image: usabilitygeek

The pen is mightier than the sword and we are all aware of this. But what if you use a wrong type font and nobody manage to read what you are trying to convey? What would be the possible outcome? Well, a failed French Revolution maybe or might the death of modern civilization since nobody would understand what the writer is trying to convey. Okay humors aside, the same principle applies in the world of web. We simply can’t expect people to spend a minute to understand a single sentence because of the poor typeface that we have chosen for a particular web designing project.

Texts are supposed to be readable and they are supposed to encourage people to read and act accordingly. You might have invested 4 or 5 hours on creating an interesting and information article but if you chose the wrong font, all your hard work will get wasted. The bottom-line is that you need to make sure that your write-up is at least readable.

As a web designer, you should not be squeezing as much texts within a given space because that would make the design look appalling and make the texts almost unreadable.

Here in this article, we are going to tell you what you must do to increase the readability of the website.

Font – Choose it Carefully

Just because you love the Comic Sans font, you simply can’t expect normal people to like it. Readability is important whether you like it or not and therefore, you need to choose the font carefully. You can play with then Headers but when it comes with the main body content, you will have to play it safe. Some designers try to play it safe by settling for web safe fonts or fonts that are already installed on the PCs of the users. This will help save some bandwidth. Now, if you are using font importing function in your website to jazz up the look and feel of the website, imagine the fate of users with slow internet connection. Your fancy fonts will not get loaded and they will have to bear with the default fonts. The entire structure of the website is going to take a hit.

A safe choice would be the traditional Sans-Serif fonts. However, there is a small problem with selecting Sans=Serif fonts. They make the content extremely readers friendly on the print medium but they do exactly just the opposite when it comes to displaying content on the web. My personal favorites are – Helvetica, Verdana, Arial, Trebuchet and Lucida Sans. In fact, Verdana was specifically designed for the web.

Line Spacing and Font Size

Line Spacing and Font Size are the two crucial factors when it comes to readability. Just a few years ago, it was common for web designers to use 16px for font size as it was considered standard but things have changed a lot thanks to the arrival of multiple devices. Now, people are browsing their websites on multiple devices and sometimes switching between devices simultaneously. Moreover, people now have personal preferences. Some like to read large fonts as it goes easy on the eye whereas in mobile devices, you simply can’t use large fonts as they would make the design and structure of the mobile website go haywire.

Some web designers are of the opinion that 16px is the standard font size irrespective of the screen size but it is far from the truth. It may be good choice for desktop users but not for tablet users. Web Designers need to use percentage as oppose to pixel as it would help the design to fit different screen sizes. Now, if this appears overwhelmingly difficult for you, you can try some website builders like – MotoCMS 3.0 or its likes. Most of its templates are responsive and the designers have kept the focus rightly on the readability part.

Contrast

You need to learn how to utilize the power of contrast to improve the readability of the website. The texts and the background color should not match under any circumstances as it would have a negative impact on the viewer. If you are using a background image instead of solid background color, you need to ensure that there is enough contrast exist otherwise people will have hard time reading the texts. If you are using glossy or extremely colorful image as background image, you need to make sure that you are using an extra layer to create the desired contrast for the texts.

Keep it Short and Sweet

It is intimidating for people to look at a paragraph that extends beyond 10 sentences. However, this is nothing unnatural when it comes to print media. Novelists, essayist etc are in the habit of writing long paragraphs but this writing style does not work on the web. People scan web pages. People rarely read complete web pages. Therefore, you need to write small paragraphs so that people can scan web pages easily and effortlessly.

Use Images and Lists

To make it easier for people to scan the web pages, we need to modify the structure of the content. Rather than composing long paragraphs, we need to split it by inserting sub headings whenever possible. Use of images will definitely help improve the look and feel of the page and also it would be great if we can use lists as this would help people scan the web pages easily.

So, these are some tips that we need to take into consideration while trying to improve the readability of a website.

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