#415: READABILITY/ACCESSIBILITY or I DO THESE THINGS AND THINK THE WHOLE WORLD SHOULD DO THEM, TOO

I have done several things along the slow evolution of building this site to physically increase readability so that you are not forced to peer squint-eyed at the screen to discern individual letters. Some of the things I have done are, and in no particular order:

  1. I coded all the font sizes so that they will scale up or down in size according to your computer setting. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, do this: go to "View" in the the toolbar at the top of your screen, click on an option that says something like "Text Size", and choose a larger or smaller size. Voila! You can alter the size of the text on some sites and avoid some of that annoying peering).

  2. I have also set the basic font size for the body of this site to a larger setting than I used to, because my friend Frances complained of not being able to make out the text on her computer and obviously did not have the know-how to enlarge it. I used to have it this size, but some people had a hard time with it. I did not want the computer unsavvy to suffer.

  3. I try to keep my paragraphs short for easy scanning. Remember, I said try.

  4. There is no horizontal scrolling here, because that is a no-no. Okay, there might be a bit to see all the links if you're using a low screen resolution, but that's it.

  5. I use a sans-serif font, because the general rule is that serif fonts are easier to read on paper and that sans-serif fonts are easier to read on a screen. I don't know why. Can you enlighten me?

  6. I set the links to a serif font in the body of the site so that they stand out well for those with colour-blindness. I don't like the look of underlined links, but I still wanted people with visual impairment to be able to see them. I think this works, but let me know if it doesn't do it for you.

    This is something to keep in mind for combinations of text and background colours, as well. If you have a red background, don't have green text or links on it, because a colour-blind person will see a brownish sea of colour and have a difficult time distinguishing the text.


  7. The line-spacing on this site is set at 1.25 so that the lines aren't crammed together and difficult to follow.

    When lines of text on a screen are too close together, it impedes reading. It also doesn't look very good. It makes me feel like I'm fighting my way out of a box.


  8. I put my links sidebar on the right side of the page so that people reading through an audio or braille reader do not have to sit through all of the text on my sidebar before getting to the entries. I don't know if I have any readers that use those devices, but if I do, this one's for you.

    If you're interested and have a text-heavy sidebar on the right, you can help someone avoid having to go through it without actually moving the sidebar. Insert the following code at the top of your sidebar before the links and text (minus the asterisks):

    <*A HREF="#skipnav"><*IMG SRC="invisiblepixel.gif" HEIGHT="1" WIDTH="1" ALT="Click here to skip navigation">

    Insert this code at the point where the device should skip to, either at the end of the sidebar or just before the main body of your website:

    <*A NAME="skipnav">

    The prompt to click the link at the top of the sidebar will not show up on your website, but it will show up on a reading device so that the person can click on it and get past the chunk of links. (The code idea found at Webcrumbs).

    You should all go do this now. Don't worry. I'll wait.


  9. Javascript is something I have tried to keep to a minimum. Some people disable javascript on their computers, and if it is integral to the design of a site, someone may not be able to see or use it properly.

  10. There is always an entry date at the top of each post. Websites that don't use dates are often abandoned, because it's difficult to know sometimes if you have come back to new content, and you end up having to slog through old content to find out.

  11. The background is not dark or black and the font is not light or white on this website. That kills the eyes sometimes. If you do want that kind of setup, make sure that your font is a good size to keep it readable.

  12. I do not set links to open up in a new window, because I prefer to give you a choice in the matter. I actually prefer to open links in a new window, but I right-click and choose the option.

See? I like you all so much that I took all of the above measures to make sure you were comfortable. Short of bringing you a piña colada and a fan, I've done as much as I know how to make your stay enjoyable and stress-free.

If there is any aspect of this site that is aggravating to encounter, please feel free to malign me for my aggregious error in the comments. I'm a sucker for punishment.

Well, I am less a sucker-for-punishment and more a run-for-the-hills-at-the-first-sign-of-conflict-scaredy-cat, but still, let me know how I'm doing on the physical readability/accessibility front. I like to hear what you guys think.



Watch David Hasselhoff sing "Hooked on a Feeling". The makeup, the bad bluescreen filming, and the child angels... I can't figure out why this video makes me so happy. (via Random Laundry)

It also gets me to thinking about how biblical angels are always adult men, but we now have a tendency to present them as female children. Why do we feminize and infantilize angels? Discuss this amongst yourselves.

Elan Morgan19 Comments