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I cannot count how many times I’ve landed on a blog, only to click off.

It wasn’t because the blog was laced with profanity, nor was it due to the site sporting too many ads

It was because I couldn’t see the writings.

By seeing the writings, I mean the size of the font.

Today’s Lesson

I’ve changed my theme many times.

Not always because I wanted a change, but on some themes the font was so small I could hardly read what I had written. Since I didn’t understand CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), I would find another theme which offered a sizable font, and links that were easy to see. I knew if I was having trouble reading my blog posts, so might others.

I know…., we can enlarge the size of the text on a page by pressing CTRL plus +, but if someone doesn’t know that, or they’re too lazy, they may leave.

Please, bloggers, take a look at your blog from the eyes of a visitor. Is the font extremely small?

Do the links blend in with the background?

Do you have trouble reading it? How about a person with flailing eyesight?

Remember, we are writing for others, not for ourselves.

Keep your audience in mind when choosing a theme/font.

Don’t give them a reason to click off before they read your great writings.

Today’s Assignment

Do you also have trouble reading some blogs?

Do you continue to frequent those sites or do you just leave?


Photo Credit: Shaggy Paul’s photostream

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  1. I can only really recall this happening one time. And it was a real shame, the post looked like it had a great deal of promise. But it was torture trying to read the microscopic text.

    The more readable ones text, the better!

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..Making People Feel Appreciated can Make You Rich

  2. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Bamboo Forest,

    I agree, some blogs are a nightmare to try and read.

    I’m currently trying to get my own font size right as I don’t want my readers to have to strain their eyes in order to read my writings.

  3. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – sometime I read without my glasses on and if I can’t read it, I don’t hang round. The ones I find most difficult are those with colour or black backgrounds.

    I’m finding my font looks a little too small on the theme I have right now, so I’m going to work out how to change it.

  4. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Like you, I have a real problem with black backgrounds. They do look cool, but are difficult to read. Often if a blog has a black background, I click off.

  5. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    You could get me going here, Barbara!

    In design for print, it’s amazing how often dark text will be on a dark background – my Australian Macworld I was reading today even did it!

    In blogs, I have real trouble with the ones on dark backgrounds – it takes a lot of skill to pull that off. There’s one blog in particular which seems quite popular and I refuse to read it (I would like to) with its text in various very bright colours, on black background.

    With font size – I have my browser (Safari) set to a minimum size.

  6. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Robin,

    Lol, sounds like this is an issue for you too.

    Isn’t that sad that what is considered a good blog is losing readers due to their color choices? And…I’m sure you’re not the only one who chooses not to read it.

  7. veredNo Gravatar says:

    I do tend to give up on blogs that are not readable.

    I have a question… what do you think about mine?

    vereds last blog post..Best Shot Monday: Random Thoughts On Paper Mache, Connectivity and Television

  8. Dr.CasonNo Gravatar says:

    I currently have a favorite blog and her background is purple with white text. Horrific to read. I keep coming back though because the post themselves are great.

    Vered – I think your font size is good. 🙂

    Dr.Casons last blog post..Cinnamon Honey Oranges and Bananas

  9. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    The only thing that really comes to mind is one blog’s comment section. The comments were tiny. I don’t always read all the comments anyway, but on this blog is was a pain. I have very good eyesight so reading small print is not a problem, but I’m sure it was very difficult for many.

    I think my blog is ok. The post body is good. The link might be a little light. I may have to think about it. Thanks for the reminder.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Potty Training

  10. Web usability is very important. Failing to follow good practices will definitely cost you visitors. I will definitely leave sites that do a poor job. Another usability area is making JavaScript required for things that in no way should require JavaScript.

    The constant news of new ways JavaScript is exploited to expose personal information and anyone sensible should use the NoScript plugin on Firefox to protect themselves. When you do so you wouldn’t believe how many web sites or so poorly done the navigation doesn’t even work (some don’t even display anything at all). There are some reasons to use JavaScript so NoSript lets you accept JavaScript for those sites (mainly if you login to the site…).

    John Hunter: Curious Cat Economics Blogs last blog post..Oil Consumption by Country

  11. It’s funny that you write this because this past weekend I discovered a problem with viewing my blog. When viewed in IE on some computers my left sidebar drops all the way to the bottom. I called up many friends who use IE and 9 out of 10 say it’s fine, but I’m worried about that 10%. I’m losing readers because of this problem. I’m looking for a new theme, but I can’t find anything I like. It’s frustrating, so I contacted someone to design a blog for me. They charge $650. I don’t make any money on my blog, yet, so I can’t justify spending the money.

    Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matterss last blog post..Great Managers Care About Their Employees

  12. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    I agree Barbara, blogs (or any website for that matter) that are hard to read, load extremely slow, have excessive ads, have blinking text, or open popups — I’ll avoid. The only exception is if the quality of what is there still makes it worth putting up with this stuff. Very rarely does it make it worth it.

    Lances last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  13. There are a couple of blogs I read that have small fonts, and I use CTRL+ to make the font bigger. It’s a little annoying, but worth it to me in some cases.

    I once unsubscribed from a very popular blog because it used a serif font. I tried, but it just hurt my eyes too much. And there’s no CTRL+ solution for that!

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Free Ebook: Memoirs Of A Gaijin

  14. chrisNo Gravatar says:

    I totally agree! I can’t stand blogs that are so heavy on design but lack content. The design is too overwhelming that it makes it difficult to read the content.

    When blogging, I live by the simple rule: “Less is more.”

    chriss last blog post..American Identity

  15. The sites I can’t read usually have a dark background. That combined with small font size is deadly, and yes, I do give up.

    If you have a blog you really like, but have trouble reading, would you consider letting the writer know? Or is that not proper blog etiquette?

    Ann at One Bag Nations last blog post..More Doing, Less Posting

  16. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Vered,

    I have no problem reading your blog. The color and font size are great.

    Hi Dr. Cason,

    I give you credit for being so dedicated to that blogger with the purple background.

    Hi Debbie,

    I’ve seen that in blogs, too. The blog’s font is good, but the comment section’s isn’t. I hate having to squint to try and read them, and if you leave a comment, it’s hard to see what you’re typing.

    Hi Karl,

    You bring up a great point. In different browsers we do see different things, and parts of some themes (and plugins) will collapse in IE.

    With regard to your problem, have you checked the theme author’s home page. Often others are having the same problem and the author may have done a “fix” for it. If not, you could ask the author how you could correct the problem.

    Hi Lance,

    Like you, I also get frustrated with blogs that load slowly. I tend not to read them as often even though some of the content is great.

    Hi Hunter,

    You just taught me something new. I didn’t know you couldn’t use CTRL+ with a serif font.

    Hi Chris,

    Yes, Less is more, in all aspects of our lives.

    Hi Ann,

    Good question.

    If I “knew” the blog author, I might send them a well worded email and mention the “problem”. However, if I didn’t know them, I wouldn’t say anything. Some bloggers think their sites look really cool, but unfortunately visitors can’t read their content. That leads me to believe they may be losing hundreds of readers.

    Maybe they’ll read this post and make the necessary changes. 🙂

  17. @ Vered – I found your text easy to read. You’re using “Century Gothic” which is a nice font but a little less used. Personally, I think it’s ok. I think different fonts go better with different website templates. Century Gothic was my original format but I found Verdana to work a little better for me.

    @ Karl Staib – your problem isn’t with someone’s web browser or your website, it’s with their screen’s resolution. They probably have it set at 800×600. Try resizing your screen resolution to that and you’ll see your sidebar drops down. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, these days most people don’t have a screen res that low and even if you get a new template, you still might have that problem.

    @ Barbara – the problem I have and what makes me click away fast from some blogs is when they have ads littered throughout the post. It might be ads by Google, affiliate links to books, or Content Link, if it’s too choppy and I feel like I’m being worked to buy something, I’ll click away.

  18. SarahNo Gravatar says:

    Hmm. I think the size and the font on mine are okay, but it is a dark gray instead of a black, and I do wonder about that. I’m up for a site redesign very soon anyway though, so I’ll prob change it to black at that point. Thanks for the post!

    Sarahs last blog post..How to Choose the Perfect Raw Food Diet.

  19. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara: It’s a shame when someone puts so much work and effort into writing a post and then others can’t read it because of the font they chose. I think my font is a little on the small smile, but what I really want to do is find a way to make the spacing between lines a little bigger.

    @Ann: I would want to know if my blog was difficult to read :- )

    Marelisas last blog post..How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

  20. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you so much for sharing the information on fonts and screen resolution. It’s great having someone in the community that understands the technical stuff. 🙂

    I agree, many blogs do have “choppy” posts to entice readers to click on ads.

  21. It’s my pleasure, Barbara. Hey, I get to hang out with a bunch of “chicks!” hehehe, uh, sorry Hunter (and the other guys), I’m not talking to you 😉

  22. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Sarah with an “h”,

    I just looked at your blog, and the color looks fine, and your font size is good too. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

    Hi Marelisa,

    Your font is smaller, but I can still read it.

    Food for thought: I wonder if you bumped up your font size if the line depth would change too.

  23. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi John,

    It’s good to see you again. What do you think about Marelisa’s question….increasing spacing between the lines? Would changing her font size help?

    We all appreciate all the help you can provide. 🙂

  24. Linda AbbitNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    As my eyes age (not myself, mind you — LOL), I have become more and more enamored of larger print & clear fonts for blogs and almost anything in print.

    I won’t struggle to read a new blog if the font is too tiny or if it’s on a dark background. Too many easy-to-read, worthwhile blogs to spend time on.

    @ Vered – It is not hard at all to read your font. I also really like the white background and clean design and feel of your blog. It is only hard to find the “About” link that is tiny and at the very bottom — don’t know if it was always like this and if it’s intentional on your part. btw, when I left a comment earlier today, your CommentLuv didn’t pick up my recent post — is it because I just put up a new one? Not sure how that feature works.

    Have a great week and 4th of July holiday everyone!

  25. @ Marelisa – here’s what you need to do to increase the spacing between lines.

    Go to your style.css file (if using WordPress you can go to “Design” then “Theme Editor.” That should bring up your style.css file.

    First, back up your style.css file. Just copy all the text in the box and paste it into a word processor document, like notepad or something. Then save that file so if something goes wrong you can copy and paste the code right back into the style.css file.

    Now to change the spacing, add this line of code anywhere in the file on its own separate line:

    p, ul, ol, blockquote {
    line-height: 180%;
    }

    Then save the file and test out your blog. Let us know if it worked or not.

  26. Oh, and changing font size won’t help. You have to change the line height. So don’t worry about changing your font size unless you want the letters bigger.

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..How To Buy A House Like A Real Estate Investor: Part 8 – Good Terms vs. Low Price

  27. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Linda Abbit,

    Like you, (only) my eyes are aging too. 😆

    White back grounds do make a difference, don’t they? It makes it a lot easier to read the content.

    Hi John,

    You’re awesome! 🙂

    Thanks for helping Marelisa. I’m sure your advice is helping other too.

    Also, it’s good to know increasing the font does not increase the spacing. That makes sense!

  28. No problem, Barbara. Thank you for cleaning up my double comment post. Sorry bout that.

  29. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    @John: It Worked! Thank you so much. My blog is easier to read now. 🙂

    Marelisas last blog post..How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

  30. Nice. Looks good, Marelisa. Can I suggest maybe increasing your font size by a point or so. The text might be a little too small. Let me know if you have any issues with the new line spacing.

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..How To Buy A House Like A Real Estate Investor: Part 8 – Good Terms vs. Low Price

  31. sterlingNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. Good point on font sizes. I’ve worked with some graphic designers who like itty bitty text because it looks cool, but I always bump up the font size to make it more practical.

    I agree with you and Cath on using light text on a dark background. It works for headlines or quick attention grabbers, but too tiring for in-depth reading.

  32. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    I totally had to change the font on my blog because it was awful! If even I didn’t want to read it, I figured there was no way anyone else would… I’ll usually parse an article with tiny font or hard-to-read colors, but I won’t ransack the archives or subscribe. It’s definitely worth paying attention to!

    Saras last blog post..Writing Down the Rabbit Hole: Eight Ways to Keep Your Blogging Habit Simple

  33. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Marelisa,

    I checked out your blog too. It looks great. You did an excellent job.

    Thanks again John!

    Hi Sterling,

    I can’t imagine why some graphic designers would think itty bitty text would look cool. Don’t they realize people have to read it?

    Good for you for bumping up the size. 🙂

    Hi Sara,

    Thinking of your readers and changing your font was a smart move. We certainly don’t want our visitors clicking off, never to return.

  34. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    Looks like everyone has hit my hot buttons when dropping by other blogs! It is also very nice to see everyone helping each other out, giving advice and solutions. Would someone let me know how mine is? thanking you in advance!

  35. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Linda,

    Although you do use a small font, with the type being black on a white background, it’s easy for me to read. If you’re concerned for those with worse eyesight than me, you could bump it up a notch.

    Isn’t this community of bloggers the greatest? I love how they step in to assist those in need. THAT is what I love about blogging. 🙂

  36. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    @Sarah – dark grey is a better font colour than black – more readable and classier – any quality book or magazine will have a dark grey font and it’s the same with websites.

    @Dr Carson – if it’s at all possible to make suggestions to the purple blog owner, they could make their font grey or a grey-mauve – the trick is to put some black into the font colour if it’s on a dark background. That way they could keep their purple background and have readable text.

    Robins last blog post..How I Found Immortality

  37. @ Linda – I think a little bigger font size might do you better. I can read it, but like Barbara mentioned, some people might have an issue with the smaller font size.

    On another note, I don’t see an RSS subscribe button in the top right corner where it belongs or a subscribe by email area? If you have a blog, these are two key components you absolutely must have.

    Other than that, I like the “feel” of your site.

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..How To Buy A House Like A Real Estate Investor: Part 8 – Good Terms vs. Low Price

  38. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, yes I really do like the support system of bloggers. It is a joy! I will notch up the print !

    Thanks alot John, I did not even realize I was missing the RSS icon… and Thank you for your kind feedback!

    Lindas last blog post..Greensburg, Kansas #4

  39. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi there Barbara.

    You know, I’m thinking the font on my blog is borderline too small. I’d like to see it larger in any case. Will see if I can figure out how to change it without changing the theme.

    Fonts and how they read are more important than some people realize. I learned this working in advertising, and from a person that some former co-workers fondly called “type-ass”. He was extremely particular about typography, and as I learned and worked with him I came to see how it did make a difference.

    Davinas last blog post..Logging For Blogging

  40. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Robin,

    That’s interesting how you have stated to use dark grey instead of black. I never thought there was that much of a difference between the two, but now that you mention it, there is.

    Hi John,

    Thanks for stepping in again and helping the girls. We certainly appreciate it.

    Hi Linda,

    I’ll come over and check out your larger font.

    Hi Davina,

    Yes, we can definitely learn a lot from people who are particular about how things are done. I’m sure his desire for perfection was justified.

  41. “You just taught me something new. I didn’t know you couldn’t use CTRL+ with a serif font.”

    Well, you can, but I meant that with a small sans serif font, you can just make it bigger and the problem is solved. A small serif font can be made bigger, but it will still be serif and that’s not good for online reading.

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Free Ebook: Memoirs Of A Gaijin

  42. hyrcanNo Gravatar says:

    There’s one blog/site that I love, The Pinky Show, but they use pretty small font. On my high res monitors it’s painfully small. But, much like any other site that I really truly like, I take the simple step of enlarging the font to make it much easier to read.

    I use a little different method from the keyboard short cut. In Firefox on a PC, you can easily hold down the Ctrl+Mouse Scroll Wheel and shrink/enlarge the text on the fly. If you do that on OSX it zooms the whole screen… which is kinda a shame. 🙁

    But it is a bit annoying, and I imagine that if someone wasn’t familiar with the show they may not give it much of a chance with it being hard to read. There’s other things as well, though… using static QT mov files instead of using flash video for example.

    The combination of hard to read text and other hard to use elements on a site will definitely turn people off. And that’s a shame considering how easy it is to tweak the CSS base font size.

    Just to give you all some added motivation to make the tweak.

    “The Enterpulse study… found that ‘66% [of the professionals in the study] rarely — if ever — return to a site once they’ve had a bad experience.”

    “In a study reported by Nielsen and Loranger, web users spent, on average, less than 2 minutes before deciding to abandon a site.”

    –Both quotes from: “Letting Go of the Words” by Janice (Ginny) Redish

    So you have less than two minutes on average, which I think is high for blog sites, to keep from loosing 66% (which I also think is high for blog sites) for good.

    Hard to read text size is really so easy to fix, and makes such a huge impact it’s mind boggling.

    hyrcans last blog post..More Than Just A Number

  43. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    okay okay, i will make my font bigger. i’m going to get around to it. 🙂

    i try to be tolerant as possible, but yes, some are hard to read.

    Naturals last blog post..No Internet Connection

  44. hyrcanNo Gravatar says:

    @Karl Staib As John Hoff mentioned you can change your screen resolution down to 800×600. Or if you want to skip that you can grab Firefox and the Add-on “Web Developer” It has a handy tool to automatically resize the browser window to a different size. This helps to check multiple screen sizes with out going through the hassle of changing you’re resolution. Plus a ton of other great tools.

    Actually… I’ll suggest everyone grab it … it’s worth it. That and Firebug when they get that going on Firefox 3.

    Also some here’s a couple of references for those wanting to delve a bit deeper.

    Bulletproof Web Design” – Dan Cederholm
    Great book that gives some pretty good examples of things you want to do, along with how not to do them and why.

    Don’t Make Me Think” – Steve Krug
    Another awesome book, while it’s great and has a lot of good information you can use on your blog sites, it’s a little more geared for general websites. Still highly recommend it though.

    And finally…

    A List Apart
    ALA is nothing short than awesome. A lot of articles that walk through the process of implementing a design element. Once you understand these elements you can apply that towards your site.

    hyrcans last blog post..More Than Just A Number

  45. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Hyrcan,

    You are filled with so much valuable information. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, references and links.

    Hi Natural,

    Glad to see you’re back online after your “outage”. 🙂

  46. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Hunter,

    I just realized I missed your comment 🙁

    Thanks for clarifying about the serif font not being the best choice for use online.

  47. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I like the conversations here. I hadn’t thought of it much until your post. I don’t think I’ve come across too many sites where the font is too small and hard to read. What I have seen occasionally is black backgrounds and bright font. That hurts my eyes – can’t read it too long.

    Always good to catch up and see what you’re latest topic is.

    Blessings,

  48. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Pat,

    It’s great to see you here. You’ve been quiet in blogosphere. Life must be keeping you busy.

    Those black backgrounds can be brutal. I have to click off.

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