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Resize for your own eyes

There has been a lot of debate lately about how to design sites that allows for the most usable and accessible font size for each user. One of the greatest debates is how, as a designer and coder of a site, should in fact set the font size for the particular site that allows for the resizing in order for visually impaired users to read the site.

There have been widgets or javascripts that have allowed the user to click on a button that will make the size bigger or smaller to their own personal liking, however the better approach is to educate the user about their browsers particular settings in order to make things work better. This is because not every site has this widget or setting on the site to allow you to resize the font size to your liking. So, in helping to educate and spread the word like other sites are doing, I would like to help you, my reader, to learn how to resize your font size for your browser to make your viewing more enjoyable, and usable.


As was posted on accessify.com, a great video by Ian Lloyd shows how to resize your browsers font size to your personal liking. This helps both you, the visitor, and I as the designer, by allowing us to “work together” to make sure that the site is usable by all people. If you can’t see the video, there is a transcript available also.

So, you might ask yourself “What’s the big deal?”. Well, it comes down to the point as a designer that sites are designed with different screen resolutions, varying font sizes, and different perspectives on how a site should look and function. I can design a site that is using a base font size of 1em. This displays everything on your browser based upon your default setting, which is usually 16 pixels. So what does this mean?

If your default setting is less than 16 pixels, it might look really small. Or if your computer monitor is set to display at a resolution of 800 X 600, it might look really big. Each persons own preference is really hard for a designer to decide what will work best. This is where the usability portion of a designer comes into play.

Some browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari for Windows will allow you to resize the text by using Ctrl+/- or holding down the Ctrl button and scrolling your mouse button. Other browsers, such as Internet Explorer version 6, don’t play nicely with this feature. So you have to change a few settings to increase or decrease your default font size.

Internet Explorer 7 offers a couple of options, both are found under the “Page” tab. You can “Zoom” the text size, which basically offers a zoomed in version of the site. Or you can also increase your default text size from the default of Medium, and increase or decrease to your liking.

The reason I am writing this is in order to help spread the word to all users of different browsers that things are just as they are. You can change your settings in order to make your browsing experience better. Just learn a little bit about your browser, and hopefully, you have here.

You can view more about this issue on the accessites.org article about educating internet users about how to resize their text size, and on Mike Cherim’s Beast blog site.

I would love to hear about your experiences, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask via a comment so we can all share the knowledge.

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