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  1. #1
    Harry Tuttle phantomflanflinger's Avatar
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    A post on behalf of the visually impaired

    The visually impaired adjust their font sizes so they can read text better, but in Flash they can't.

    Do professional Flash designers compensate for this? No, they alienate the visually impaired by using pretentiously small text that even I struggle to read with my 20/20 vision. Not only that, the right-click menu is always disabled so they can't even Zoom in.

    Let's stop alienating the visually impaired. Let's make communication paramount and start acting like professionals. Let's stop fawning over sites we can't read easily, no matter how thick our glasses are.

    http://otradesign.com/flash-index.htm
    This is from this month's featured site section and is apparently a "beautifully-crafted portfolio site". Anyone have a microscope?
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  2. #2
    Senior Citizen phacker's Avatar
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    Have to say I agree with you Phantom.

  3. #3
    Harry Tuttle phantomflanflinger's Avatar
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    BTW

    I don't seek to victimise otradesign or any specific company, but the whole eyestrainingly-small-text phenomenon that has blighted Flash design for the past two years or so.

    There are many many visually impaired people with net access and it's not only the visually impaired who find Flash sites hard to read.

    I suppose if you are a geek with very powerful lenses in your glases and a 21" $2000 monitor the Flash text looks about the right size. Designers who make sites that only geeks can use... I could go on about them, but you know already.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    Though I haven't really looked into it, I'd be interested to see what MX 2004's CSS support lets us do about this.

    The accessibility support in Flash is pretty lame really, especially since it seems to be totally non-standard. Maybe CSS support will redress the balance??
    Sam



  5. #5
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    I have theorized that you could use a series of dynamic textboxes, each set with a different font size, and using a button set up and the setProperty function, you could allow the user to choose which one was visible, simulating the increase/decrease in user-selected font size.

    Never did it, but I'm sure it would work.
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  6. #6
    SPAMMER
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    Don't forget that most of us are working to the clients specification, if they want pixel fonts then i tend to go with them. Yes, its a problem, but the sort of sites alot of flash designers are doing, are from clients who want a cool looking site, and although it is good for useablity, fonts that have changeable sizes will change the design and are not visually appealing. I guess what i'm saying is that designers design, it's up to the client to consider what type of useablity issues they want to put in place.

  7. #7
    Lunch is for wimps. erova's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jaybirch
    it's up to the client to consider what type of useablity issues they want to put in place.
    i dunno about that. seems to me professionals offer services, recommendations, and strategies about design--we're the pros who are supposed to be prepared with such answers as compliance, accessibility, technical issues and what not.

    in fact, i'd much rather be the resident *expert* about such issues, than have my clients decide they want to start reading usability reports and what not...

  8. #8
    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'd go with erova on that.

    We, as designers, are the ones who are responsible for providing the client with a site that's accessible to as many people as possible.

    I think the issue of creating sites with good usability is too often overridden by the idea that you can't create a nice site that is usable at the same time.
    Sam



  9. #9
    SPAMMER
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    maybe i am in the minority here, but i doubt it.
    Would you honestly tell a client to use a large font for better useablity as opposed to a really nice, if hard to read font.

    Maybe it is not the best attitude to have, but its one alot of designer have (probably the most sucessful ones)

    Also if you do go down the usabilty path, you would also have to tell all clients to never use flash, because of the 4% that don't have that plugin. I try to make my sites as usable as possible, but i also try to make them as well designed as possible, and the truth is, most of my clients will sacrifice some useablity for better style and so will I.

    I have several times told clients to use html as opposed to flash, and pointed out the many usabilty reasons for my choice, but more often than not, they say flash or nothing. Its eye candy all the way.
    Last edited by jaybirch; 10-07-2003 at 03:02 PM.

  10. #10
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jaybirch
    Would you honestly tell a client to use a large font for better useablity as opposed to a really nice, if hard to read font.
    The vast majority of 'opinion differences' that I have with customers is that the font I use is too damn small.

    If the majority of people for which I put together sites were to have their way, they'd have 16pt Verdana as their font of choice and it is I (me, the designer, the very point of reference that they hired to advise) that has to bring it into some mid point of reasonability - going with a nice 11pt Arial, for example.

    Mini pixel fonts are fine for some fun sites, but if you're working for a company and have anyone older than 21 expected to visit that particular URL, you'd better size up that text.

    Pronto.
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  11. #11
    Super Cool
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    As a designer, I never thought of alienating the visually impaired. I design as what the client and I have agreed. At times I will suggest to them the font size to be used for a particular part of the site. Some will agree; some won't. But what ever the outcome - It's usually "Customer Satisfaction" that matters. Maybe the biggest problem that really exist is "How we can convince our client with our design perspectives" as majority of them are not artistically gifted.

    (However, if the client is just me, I do whatever I want to put on my site regardless of who might view them. Afterall it's my own. Maybe http://otradesign.com has this perspective when he did his "beautifully-crafted portfolio site".)
    http://www.axistrizero.com

  12. #12
    Harry Tuttle phantomflanflinger's Avatar
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    It's less than 4% that don't have the Flash plugin: http://www.macromedia.com/software/p...netration.html
    and the visually impaired may be a minority, but it's not only they who find tiny text hard to read, annoying and pointless. I'd say it's at 33%+ of Net users.

    I don't see a need to have two or more versions of a Flash movie, which would be a pain for designers and increase costs for clients. Why can't we just keep the text on or above... say 10pt? Sorry, but text isn't a relative stylistic thing, guys, you can measure it very easily.

    There's no reason for tiny text. It's NEVER essential. And, it doesn't even look cool, it looks cliched. There's been about two years and about two hundred thousand sites with this tiny text fad. Why do so many people think it's cool to copy everyone else?
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  13. #13
    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jaybirch
    maybe i am in the minority here, but i doubt it.
    Would you honestly tell a client to use a large font for better useablity as opposed to a really nice, if hard to read font.
    Yes, I would, but then I have a slightly different attitude because I've had problems with my eyesight since I was born...but that's a different issue.

    My point is this; you never know who is viewing your site or why. You also never know whether they have any 'impairments'. So therefore, you have no idea of the kind of people you're excluding (I say 'you', i'm not directing this at anyone, i'm talking about 'you' the designer).
    To quote from the W3C:
    http://www.w3.org/1999/05/WCAG-REC-fact
    Accessible Web sites can be just as creatively designed as inaccessible sites. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines address how to make a large variety of Web features accessible, rather than recommending that sites be dull or boring. The goal is to ensure that all kinds of Web sites, including multimedia, work well for all users.
    I've done some (very little) work on building streaming media for accessibility. From the discussions I've had people are generally pretty pissed off that the simplest of things which exclude them (e.g. font size, no subtitles etc.) are just left out for no (as far as they're concerned) reason. And to be fair, they've got a pretty good point.
    Not that I wan't to get statistical (as these discussions invariably do...), but back in '98 the US census revealed 22% of people had some form of disability...that's a lot of people to randomly exclude!
    Sam



  14. #14
    SPAMMER
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    sometimes small fonts look great and really work well, and as it's been mentioned a few times now, it is the client that knows their target audience, not a web designer, so it is really their decision to apply useablity techniques where they see fit, and then the designer implements them, that's my two cents, again, i just feel that web designers are being relied upon too much to do things that only the business itself should be doing (because they have the full knowledge of their target audience)

  15. #15
    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    Hehehe, I like your style

    On the other hand, how can most clients possibly know their entire target audience and all it's quirks?
    Maybe if you're designing for a closed intranet site, and every user of the site has been interviewed (and been entirely open) about their impairments...but that sounds like a once in a lifetime job.
    Sam



  16. #16
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    Originally posted by jaybirch
    sometimes small fonts look great and really work well, and as it's been mentioned a few times now, it is the client that knows their target audience, not a web designer, so it is really their decision to apply useablity techniques where they see fit, and then the designer implements them, that's my two cents, again, i just feel that web designers are being relied upon too much to do things that only the business itself should be doing (because they have the full knowledge of their target audience)
    I'm going to have to disagree with that - here's my take on the situation

    Yes, the clients know their target audience (most of the time) and apart from an understanding of their company's brand essence that is probably the most important information they can give you.

    But they normally don't know about websites, usability, navigation or design and rely on you to provide that knowledge as part of your service.

    All suggestions need to be justified and discussed obviously, there's no point dictating anything - but I would never blindly follow a client's suggestions in an area that I imagine I know something about if I thought they were incorrect.

    finally - I don't think the decision to use small fonts is ever a usability decision, only about what people think looks good and cool

    - n.

  17. #17
    Harry Tuttle phantomflanflinger's Avatar
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    Good post SJT.

    Q. What kind of client would say "I know my target audience. They want tiny text"?
    A. A fictional client.

    The tiny text problem is a part of Web designers' burning desire to do themselves out of business.

    Flash can be hard to sell, even today, because far too often Joe Client far too often finds Flash too slow to load, too hard to navigate and (in the last couple of years) too hard to read. So, he assumes all Flash is like that and we try to persuade him otherwise and sometimes we can't.

    Too many of us Web designers are making sites that ultimately make us poorer. Thanks. And thanks a bunch to all the people (e.g. Flashkit) who give awards to client-alienating sites, as this encourages designers to carry on making this kind of geeks-only whimsy.
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  18. #18
    ScreenResolution
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    IMO there's not a business out there that wants to loose a single sale. So why create a potential problem by using small text?

    We're designers, we should be able to produce equally impressive sites with fonts of a reasonable size. What's there to be gained by using small type???

    It's all about money. We want it, our clients want it, our clients clients want it. So lets not risk loosing any and make our sites accessible to all.

  19. #19
    Lunch is for wimps. erova's Avatar
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    first of all i think we need to clarify a few things here:

    are we *****ing about text being too small to read and therefore it's unusable? or are we referring to accessibility issues where text is unable to be read by a screenreader or the person himself?

    if we're approaching this from a usability stance, and not 'look at my paragraphs--they're tiny' perspective, then there should be a lot things we need to discuss. for example, sites using CSS can make text sizes scale based on the user needs. this isn't new; it's an effective technique as well. if a user needs to see it more clearly, he or she enlarges the text.

    furthermore, use relevant description tags--these are often times read by spiders and bots and therefore not only help your visually impaired audience but also your search-engine placement.

    and what if, you say, the user has a browser where CSS is disabled? then know how to code so that relevant information is still placed on the screen in a cogent layout.

    as far as graphics go, if you use them for your content (ahem), then not only can someone never increase the size, but they may not print right, and they are completely inaccessible to screen readers or people who want to read larger type (not to mention bloated bandwidth and near impossiblity to update without hassle).

    if we're talking about text being too small to ready but not taking any of the above points into play, then we're really only arguing about the aesthetic value placed on small text, which then is only each person's opinion.

  20. #20
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    508 section of the ADA

    A good law suit or two would help these folks understand that sites that want to do business with the public should be readable to all! There are so many things that are taken for granted! Try using a screen reader sometime instead of the screen.

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