Yesterday I was asked an interesting question about the way that commercial websites look. After hearing that I was involved in Internet marketing, the question that followed was “why do some commercial websites make the size of their font so small that it’s hard for some people to read?” This referral to “some people” was synonymous with those above 30 years of age, although not limited to just that age group. Nevertheless, I thought it brings this issue into light.
My opinion on the matter is that the reason why some font sizes on commercial websites are so small is because it’s more targeted towards that specific market. For example, if your website is selling electronic products for college students or simliar age group, then chances are that your website would be designed accordingly. Any other age group that happens to visit your website, then would just be a bonus. But unfortunately, the website design may not be suitable for them. An artistic/creative website would most likely have a small font just to razzle and dazzle. A news-oriented website would most likely have a size 10-12 arial/verdana font. Each website has its own standard. Unfortunately, there’s no way for the W3C or for most people to create this standard.
The short answer is that the standard for font sizes is that there aren’t any standards, or anything concrete for that matter. Prove me wrong…is there a standard that you can think of?
Of course there are best-practices, such as making sure that you don’t have a website with a white background and a very light colored font. If your website is a public institution, then most likely it falls under BOBBY or ADA issues. Nevertheless, until a definitive standard is set and adhered to (highly unlikely), the best we can hope for is using the handy magnifier tool that Microsoft provides in its operating systems or in our browsers to enlarge the font size.