Lots of readers wrote in thanking me for the Verdana font tip. Whether or not it helps your online reading retention is your opinion. You’re free to set your browser’s default font to whatver you choose. This concept is a good example of a user-controlled GUI. In most browsers, you can also change the default font size and the default background color, as well. I’ve been doing lots of thinking and reading about a concept called user-controlled design, especially as it’s applied to web and GUI design. One of the things that bothers me about many of today’s web designers is they insist on using FONT FACE and SIZE tags in their code. Not only does this over-ride the end user’s default settings, it causes problems with cross-browser and cross-platform rendering. The web would be a much friendlier and more readable place if web designers would grasp the concept of allowing their end users to change the look and feel of the web site they’re viewing, even if it were just changing a font face, a font size, or a background color.
Back in June, I attended a conference in Maryland. There was an in-depth discussion about pervasive accessibility for the web. What this means is that everyone must be be able to read your web site(s), regardless of what technologies they are using, what handicaps or disabilities they might have, or any other barrier that may exist in blocking the accessibility to your site. Thinking past the current crop of web browsers and their many limitations, as web designers, we must start thinking about our sites as pieces of data and information rather than a bunch of pretty pictures with a nice GUI. The future of the Internet will be based on the idea of distributing your information over the Internet in multiple formats, and into many new types of Internet-enabled appliances. The PDA (Palm, Newton, WinCE) market understands this and is working on making their devices even more Internet-savvy. Another market that sees this is the wireless market, which includes cell phones.
Posted by Cameron Barrett at January 5, 2000 01:00 PM