A few years ago, the resolution on our monitors wasn’t good enough to make big text look great, unflickery, and unpixellated on screen. And so, many news and magazines merely transposed their way of thinking from their offline worlds into the online environment: they built websites that published their words in small font, expecting readers to interact with their copy the way they had always done with their newspapers and magazines. If the text was too small, they could move closer to their screens. The smart ones could increase the font size in their browsers, even if that would mess up the formatting of the rest of the site. It was as if news organizations were still stuck in the age of the typewriter.
That way of thinking is out of date. We are now living in an age of Retina displays and high-resolution desktop monitors. These days, the flicker of our monitors is barely detectable, there’s less reflection and glare, and it’s a strain to see any pixellation in the text even when we’re so close to the screen we could kiss it. Despite these developments, however, there is a surprising number of newspaper, magazine, and blog hold-outs, who just don’t want to let go of the small-font days.
Maybe it’s just a sign that I’m getting old and need spectacles, but I have grown impatient with the websites that refuse to adapt to this new age of big-fonted beauty. So I’m going to call a few out. Below, I present to you some of the sites that need to lift their game a few point sizes. And then, I show you the ones who are doing it right.
The worst offenders
Baltimore Sun: Visible with magnifying glass
Popular Science: 11-point is for pull-quotes
Venture Beat: A picture is worth 4,540 words
NYT Bits Blog: Look closer: the story is in the central column
The Atlantic: Outdated attempt at mini-classical
Poynter: Small and squinty
Wired: Wants you to work hard for its words
Best in Show
Nieman Journalism Lab: Quiet and spacious, with a “zen” mode
Forbes: Readable treasures behind the interstitial
Buzzfeed: Because it should never be difficult to read about cats
Medium: Keeping it simple
Svbtle: White space is our friend
NSFW: A relaxing massage of the eyes
[Lead image courtesy kenteegardin]