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Web Design Mistakes - Text and Fonts by Breal Web Design
The main purpose people use the Internet is for research,
according to most user surveys. While not specifying the kind of
research being done, it is safe to assume that people are
spending a lot of time online reading.
Unless a site is meant to be full of graphics, such as an art
gallery or promotional page for a graphic designer, the use of
graphics should be minimal. To learn more about using graphics,
send a blank e-mail to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Your site should be easy to read. There are literally thousands
of fonts out there, so why shouldn't you use a special one?
Because not everyone looking at your web site will have the font
installed on their computer. Your visitor will be looking at
your page with their installed fonts. Mac users have different
default fonts to IBM and compatible users too.
So how do you cater to the masses? There are a few fonts that
are installed by default on most computers and it's best to
stick with them (for example: Times New Roman, Arial, Courier or
When using these fonts you can specify them in your font tags or
in your CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) files. Always include
alternatives for different browsers to choose from. Using a font
tag for example: <FONT FACE="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">your
text</FONT> or <"FONT-FACE="Times New Roman, Times, serif">your
The worst text and font mistakes include:
ø Making your text too small to read easily. If you are using a
style to specify a font size, ensure your font is not under 10
points. The exception to this is the 'fine print' such as a link
required to display.
ø L-o-n-g copy. You don't get your visitor's attention for long.
Many readers will stop at 2 or 3 web pages (around 1000 words)
or they'll start to skim your document and could easily miss
important information. If you have miles of text one on page,
you could consider splitting it up into sub pages. Try creating
a summarised main version and use descriptive links to more
ø Using similar coloured background and text. Ensure your text
has enough contrast for viewers to read easily.
ø Using garish or extreme background and text colour
combinations. Nothing puts me (and thousands of other web users)
off faster than trying to read text on a garish background
colour. Keep text easy to read.
ø ALL CAPITALS. THIS IS THE EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING AT YOUR SITE
VISITORS! It's also much harder to read a document only written
in capitals. It is acceptable for headings.
ø Flashing text, scrolling text and other 'special effects'.
Flashing text is not pleasant to watch and puts people off. The
only place scrolling text should appear is in tickers and news
headlines (and only in the former, in my opinion, as it's very
hard to read).
ø Multiple fonts. A good quality professional document will not
use more than 2 or 3 fonts on a page. This rule applies both
offline and online. Too many fonts are distracting, so if you
want variety, decide on one font for the headings, and one for
the text - then stick to them throughout your document. When
designing a web site, it is best to maintain consistency
throughout the site by sticking with the same fonts on every
If you do want to use a non standard font in your web page, try
making it into a graphic. You can do this easily with a graphic
editor. Just set the canvas to transparent, type your word or
phrase with your desired font, then save it as a .GIF.
If you haven't specified an absolute text size in your style
sheets or font tags, your font size can be changed by your site
visitor. On Internet Explorer, it's 'Text Size' on the 'View'
menu. So, if you want to fix your font size, ensure it's large
enough for the majority of people to read, as older people will
want text at 11 or 12 points or higher.
Look around on the web and you'll see plenty of good and bad
examples of text. If you're in doubt about your work, leave your
masterpiece a day or two, then take a fresh look at it. And, ask
a couple of friends to have a look and let you know what they
About the author:
Breal provides cost effective web site design and hosting with a
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