Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Text Resizing Widgets

Is it good practice to place Text Resizing Widgets on your page or should the user change font-size through their browser?

Lately, I've had people tell me that they doubt the utility of the text-resizing widgets; that people who don't know how to resize fonts through their browser would not be able to recognize or use text-resizing widgets. I can't stand this position that people should change font-size only through their browser - and that if users aren't using their browser to change font-size it can only mean that they are ignorant.

Some argue that resizing widgets requires Javascript which is not always enabled. It's true that Javascript is not always enabled but session-variables and client-side cookies can be used as well.

I don't see the rational in spending time showing your readers how to change text-size via their browsers after all would they even see or click the link explaining the process if they wouldn't see or use the text-resizing  A A A.

It is simpler and easier for most users to adjust text-size on a particular site via an icon than using keyboard commands. Of course CTRL/CMD +/- is simple too but there is more than one way to do things. There is no harm in providing visual clues in interface design - or would you like to get rid of GUIs and go back to UNIX and use Vi or EMACS for your wordprocessing?

Finally a lot of text-resizing problems comes from designers who reduce the size of text, concerned as they are with the visual impact rather than the utility aspect of the site.

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