Re: Online fonts and sizes -- new usability study

Subject: Re: Online fonts and sizes -- new usability study
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002 06:49:17 -0700

I'm not sure why people are responding so negatively to this study. It
seemed like a nice high-level study: decent cross-section of users,
average sized monitor, and both quantifiable responses (reading time) and
gut-level reactions (attractiveness) were collected.

I found it interesting.

Remember, this is a study of ONLINE fonts, which I assume includes Web
pages, not just viewing documents in Word or Frame. With HTML, things like
line length, spacing and such are controlled to a large degree by the way
the users have set up their browsers, and microscopic studies of all the
variables would be a waste of time.

As a Web designer, I long ago gave up trying to completely control what
the viewer sees, and instead aim for creating versatile documents that
*should* look okay under most viewing scenarios.

To me, the study does what it set out to do, and confirms my suspicions
about some fonts (and introduced me to one with which I was not familiar -
Georgia - which I find I'm liking). It's not a Nobel winner, to be sure,
but I thought it was a decent survey of what the average user likes to see
on their screen.

I've looked at more detailed studies led by super-anal typography experts,
but I'm frankly more interested in what Joe or Josephine Average likes to
see on their screen. Their likes and dislikes are more instinctive, and
less skewed by "typographic philosophy" (for lack of a better term).

To me, J & J Average represent the viewers *I* design sites for.
Therefore, this interesting but not life-changing survey was more useful
than the pedantic how-many-angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin studies I see
performed by Serious Typographers. YMMV.

-Keith Cronin

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