Font Size on the Web
There was a recent Smashing Magazine article, with a follow up poll for designers to choose their favourite size for setting type on the web. It was an interesting article and an interesting topic. As the majority of the information on the internet is still text based, it is extremely important that the information is displayed in a way that is easily interpreted by the reader.
The article put forward the idea that using a text size of any less than 16 pixels for body copy could be costly in that it could become difficult for the user to read. I agree that designers should be aware of how users are receiving the information that they place online, it is the whole point of publishing anything on-line, but I find it a little short sighted to make a blanket term that all body text should be above 16px in size.
Above shows the fonts that have been traditionally most used for body copy until lately at 16px, I am using these as an example as they are the fonts that most users will have been the most familiar with for the longest period of time. It is immediately apparent that when placed side by side that some are more readable at this size than others. Verdana is easily more readable than Times New Roman at this size, and so it should be, it has a larger x-height and has been designed for the web so that it is readable at smaller size. This means that while Times New Roman is only readable above about 15px, Verdana can be read clearly down to around 13px.
This goes to show that blanket statements, like ‘All body copy should be above 16px’ really do not take into account enough about the situation in which the body copy is being displayed, in this case, changing the font can make enough of a difference that it is called into question, never mind taking into account other factors such as context or what device it is being displayed on.
As with most areas of design, I have found, the answer is ‘It depends’, it depends on the font, the contrast, the context and even how and where the target user is likely to be viewing the information. It is ultimately down to the designer to make their own decision.← Images in Responsive Designs | User Journeys and Goals →