Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Picky, picky, picky.

Picky, picky, picky.

Note to would-be blog stylists out there: Do not hard code font sizes in pixels. Especially tiny ones. Case in point:

Witness the discrepancy between the normal font size (in the dialog’s list box at top) and the blog post text at the bottom (12px according to the CSS, yikes!). Let me also point out that I’m NOT picking on the blog poster, who probably wasn’t even responsible for the style. I guess it will be clear from the aggregator whence it comes, so my smudging won’t matter for some of you readers. Suffice it to say, the poster in question rocks hard and this is no reflection on that.

For the last several years there has been a completely asinine gravitation on the part of designers for smaller and smaller fonts, as a large proportion of computer users becomes older. My eyesight’s pretty bad, but glasses take care of that for me. However, when you factor in a high resolution monitor such as this laptop’s 14.1? SXGA+ (1400×1050) screen, things can get pretty ugly fast. And when these hard coded font sizes break my desktop app (like this Liferea RSS reader), that’s a really invasive problem.

Getting away from blogs for the moment: the funny things is, I find this a lot on commercial sites, including those that don’t cater exclusively to a young crowd. Let me give their designers (and more importantly, the designers’ managers) a tip: Older people have more money. Well OK, not always, but it’s not bad as a general guideline. Why on earth would you go out of your way to make it harder for people to get your message or buy your product?

O noez, I haz a rant. Time to calm down and drink my coffee.


  1. fatal

    I’m with you on the hardcoded pixel font size…. My “solution” for the web is to press control+scroll down to zoom the text in Firefox. I basically do this automatically nowadays every time I open a page in a new tab. This on the other hand introduces yet another thing to hate: Why is down=Bigger and up=Smaller in Firefox?! Just because Microsoft got this wrong in Internet Explorer (which they since fixed in v7) isn’t really an excuse…..

  2. That’s why Konqueror has a “minimum font size” setting. 🙂 (It’s set to 9 point here.) Ironically, that’s what the text in your own blog displays at! (I just tried turning the setting down to 8 point, and sure enough, all your text got smaller. And reading the CSS style tells me it’s set to 11px.)

  3. Right, I can always use that in Firefox as well, but why then does my blog RSS feed render at the expected system font size in Liferea, while others impose horribly tiny fonts? That’s one of the main benefits of the RSS reader — it removes all the pesky browser cruft.

  4. The problem really is that the RSS feed for the blog in question includes HTML elements, which is a super-big no-no. Is that a normal LiveJournal behavior, or just an Atom feed, or…? My WordPress blog handles these things properly.

  5. Argh! I just saw this post and I apologise from the bottom of my heart – designed my own WordPress theme and I hardcoded the font sizes in pixels without even considering the effect this would have on people.

    Now my eyes are open, I’ll fix it on my site for sure 😀 (Although exactly when I get around to it I’m not sure!)

  6. It’s not so much the themes on the pages themselves — a browser takes care of that. It’s when the font sizes are hardcoded into the RSS feeds that causes the problem. It doesn’t even make sense for font information to be in RSS.

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