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W3C typography: just the basics

From: Ben Weiner, Text Matters <ben@textmatters.com>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 21:59:22 -0500
Message-Id: <DB30FB80-5D4A-4CA3-8D0D-71C5A32A0A1D@textmatters.com>
To: site-comments@w3.org



Hi there,

I'd like to echo the comments from other contributors to this list  
about the visual design of pages on the W3C site.

While it's tempting to suggest major changes, I feel that by far the  
most significant issue is the very poor typography. It's not browser- 
default: somebody chose to make it this way. And that seems a shame,  
because these days browsers have default typographical styles that,  
if they are not better, are no worse in three respects:

.. choice of typeface: Helvetica, a sans-serif typeface, is a poor  
candidate for screen reading as it is spindly and has no variation in  
the width of the lines from which it is made. This creates a glaring,  
harsh effect. Better would be Georgia or Verdana; the type size is  
just about right.

.. choice of line-height: lines of type on W3C pages  
characteristically extend to the full width of the browser window.  
That makes scanning along them something of a challenge if the window  
is wide (as if often needs to be, to follow code examples etc).  
Typographers would give a generous amount of space between each line  
to make the job easier. And this would untangle the dangling letters  
on the line above from the thrusting letters in the line below.

.. choice of foreground/background colour: why make the page glare?  
There is no need to have full white background and completely black  
type. Why not slightly reduce the difference between foreground and  
background colour saturation to lessen glare and make it easier for  
tired eyes, especially in these hefty technical documents? Few people  
read them for pleasure, and the opportunity is there to make the  
necessity a little more pleasant.

These recommendations would help to relax the layout and they would  
also lessen the need for all the brightly-coloured boxes with  
visually overbearing borders that betray a struggle to articulate the  
content of so many documents on this site. Through the technologies  
that W3C oversees, the art of online typography has come a long way.

Cheers,
Ben
Received on Tuesday, 26 July 2005 02:59:32 GMT

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