The Internet Is Getting More Difficult To Read

Posted: Oct 24 2016, 6:46pm CDT | by , in Also on the Geek Mind


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The Internet is Getting More Difficult to Read
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The internet is actually getting hard and harder to read as people are starting to use it more often. As a general rule, people are starting to move toward thinner and lighter fonts, making is really difficult for people to read if they are older, have vision problems, or if they have been on the internet for a long time.

Text has moved away from the bolder and darker font of the past, and even worse, many websites are now using different colored backgrounds as well.

Kevin Marks, an award-winning blogger and founder of Microformats, looked into the trend after he found that he was having problems with reading what was on the screen. He found that there was a reduction in contrast between the backgrounds of webpages and the font used as well as thinner typography.

Typically, black on white text has a contrast ratio of 21:1, and most tech companies agree that 7:1 is the best so that people who are visually impaired can still see. Even Apple, the king of the internet as usage, only has a ratio of 5.5:1.

Marks said that the changes could really hurt the internet. “The typography choices of companies like Apple and Google set the default design of the web, and these two drivers of design are already dancing on the boundaries of legibility,” he warned Backchannel. “If the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails the open access by excluding large swaths of people such as the elderly, the visually impaired, or those retrieving websites through low-quality screens. As we rely on computers not only to retrieve information but also to access and build services that are crucial to our lives, making sure that everyone can see what’s happening becomes increasingly important.”

These changes have come about because of societal trends and a great increase in the number of fonts, colors, and background options. The rise of LCD technology and HD screens has also caused thinner fonts.

The US-based Web Accessibility Initiative, who came up with the original ratio, said that the times are changing and people are focusing on too little contrast. “Choosing colors with poor contrast makes navigating, reading and interacting a real pain,” said a spokesman. “Good design means sufficient contrast between foreground and background colors. If it’s important enough to be clear. This is essential for people with low contrast sensitivity which becomes more common as we age.”

Marks himself warned about choosing to keep the contrast reduced would alienate users. “To arbitrarily throw away contrast based on a fashion that looks good on my perfect screen in my perfectly lit office is abdicating designer’s responsibilities to the very people for whom they are designing,” he said. "My plea to designers and software engineers: Ignore the fads and go back to the typographic principles of print. You’ll be making things better for people who read on smaller, dimmer screens, even if their eyes aren’t aging like mine. It may not be trendy, but it’s time to consider who is being left out by the web’s aesthetic.”

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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