18 May 2012 9 am eastern

Web Design Manifesto 2012

THANK YOU for the screen shot. I was actually already aware that the type on my site is big. I designed it that way. And while I’m grateful for your kind desire to help me, I actually do know how the site looks in a browser with default settings on a desktop computer. I am fortunate enough to own a desktop computer. Moreover, I work in a design studio where we have several of them.

This is my personal site. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Designers with personal sites should experiment with new layout models when they can. Before I got busy with one thing and another, I used to redesign this site practically every other week. Sometimes the designs experimented with pitifully low contrast. Other times the type was absurdly small. I experimented with the technology that’s used to create web layouts, and with various notions of web “page” design and content presentation. I’m still doing that, I just don’t get to do it as often.

Many people who’ve visited this site since the redesign have commented on the big type. It’s hard to miss. After all, words are practically the only feature I haven’t removed. Some of the people say they love it. Others are undecided. Many are still processing. A few say they hate it and suggest I’ve lost my mind—although nobody until you has suggested I simply didn’t have access to a computer and therefore didn’t know what I was designing. This design may be good, bad, or indifferent but it is not accidental.

A few people who hate this design have asked if I’ve heard of responsive web design. I have indeed. I was there when Ethan Marcotte invented it, I published his ground-breaking article (and, later, his book, which I read in draft half a dozen times and which I still turn to for reference and pleasure), and I’ve had the privilege of seeing Ethan lecture and lead workshops on the topic about 40 times over the past three years. We’ve incorporated responsive design in our studio’s practice, and I’ve talked about it myself on various stages in three countries. I’m even using elements of it in this design, although you’d have to view source and think hard to understand how, and I don’t feel like explaining that part yet.

This redesign is a response to ebooks, to web type, to mobile, and to wonderful applications like Instapaper and Readability that address the problem of most websites’ pointlessly cluttered interfaces and content-hostile text layouts by actually removing the designer from the equation. (That’s not all these apps do, but it’s one benefit of using them, and it indicates how pathetic much of our web design is when our visitors increasingly turn to third party applications simply to read our sites’ content. It also suggests that those who don’t design for readers might soon not be designing for anyone.)

This redesign is deliberately over the top, but new ideas often exaggerate to make a point. It’s over the top but not unusable nor, in my opinion, unbeautiful. How can passages set in Georgia and headlines in Franklin be anything but beautiful? I love seeing my words this big. It encourages me to write better and more often.

If this were a client site, I wouldn’t push the boundaries this far. If this were a client site, I’d worry that maybe a third of the initial responses to the redesign were negative. Hell, let’s get real: if this were a client site, I wouldn’t have removed as much secondary functionality and I certainly wouldn’t have set the type this big. But this is my personal site. There are many like it, but this one is mine. And on this one, I get to try designs that are idea-driven and make statements. On this one, I get to flounder and occasionally flop. If this design turns out to be a hideous mistake, I’ll probably eventually realize that and change it. (It’s going to change eventually, anyway. This is the web. No design is for the ages, not even Douglas Bowman’s great Minima.)

But for right now, I don’t think this design is a mistake. I think it is a harbinger. We can’t keep designing as we used to if we want people to engage with our content. We can’t keep charging for ads that our layouts train readers to ignore. We can’t focus so much on technology that we forget the web is often, and quite gloriously, a transaction between reader and writer.

Most of you reading this already know these things and already think about them each time you’re asked to create a new digital experience. But even our best clients can sometimes push back, and even our most thrilling projects typically contain some element of compromise. A personal site is where you don’t have to compromise. Even if you lose some readers. Even if some people hate what you’ve done. Even if others wonder why you aren’t doing what everyone else who knows what’s what is doing.

I don’t think you will see much type quite this big but I do think you will see more single-column sites with bigger type coming soon to a desktop and device near you. For a certain kind of content, bigger type and a simpler layout just make sense, regardless of screen size. You don’t even have to use Typekit or its brothers to experiment with big type (awesome as those services are). In today’s monitors and operating systems, yesterday’s classic web fonts—the ones that come with most everyone’s computer—can look pretty danged gorgeous at large sizes. Try tired old Times New Roman. You might be surprised.

The present day designer refuses to die.


Filed under: Ideas, State of the Web, The Essentials, The Profession, Typekit, Typography, Usability, User Experience, UX, Web Design, Web Design History, webfonts, Websites, webtype, Zeldman, zeldman.com

246 Responses to “Web Design Manifesto 2012”

  1. Matthew Oliphant said on

    I love the big type.

    It’s about what I bump ALA up to as well. Old eyes + my specific angle subtended on the retina and all that.

  2. Timothy Whalin said on

    I applaud you, Jeffrey Zeldman. I must say that I’ve followed you and your work for not nearly as long as some and today is the day my respect for you has grown immensely. You have every right to do with your personal site as you wish. And I agree with you that type on a page is simply gorgeous. Newer designers doesn’t respect the art of typography nearly as much as they should. There is such a craft that goes into creating one and you present that so well here. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. Kristofer Layon said on

    I actually think it’s great, Jeffrey. It’s not only content-first, but it’s also decently mobile-first right out of the box. Yet not in a fancy-schmantzy, “hey, guys, look at my content reflow” sort of way.

    (in fact, I think I’ll use this as one of my examples when I speak about the minimal viable web on June 4 in Minneapolis)

    Oh, and people need to remember how to resize text if they think yours is too big. These browsers can do amazing things. Command-minus. Living in the future. =)

  4. Martin di Martino-Marriott said on

    I’m very glad you made this point. Large type is how it should be! It’s easier to read and just friendlier and is a welcome, rare focus on content.
    The problem, as well as the ego of many-a designer, is that clients force us to – as you sai – compromise. We work for clients who don’t always have the users’ needs at heart; rather their own subjective, whimsical and biased judgement on ‘what looks good’ rather than what is a good reading experience (I think I’m making sense?)
    I wish more people designed with this philosophy, it’s just not always ‘allowed’…but that’s the beauty of personal projects; to divide people, express, and experiment. Thanks for making this point so eloquently!

    Martin

  5. Ryan Merrill said on

    Nice response to the criticism, and I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re trying here. I increased the font size to 18px on my personal site at http://ryanmerrill.net, and couldn’t be happier with how it looks both in the browser and smaller screen devices.

    Looking forward to future experiments here. Welcome back.

  6. Ryno said on

    I like the logic behind this design and the end result. If we dont push boundaries and break rules our designs will stay the same, experiments like this one force us to think differently……..Im a fan

  7. Valeria said on

    Jeffrey, this is actually a font size I’m grateful for! I can read the text effortlessly, even relaxing my eyes :)

    So, thank you!

  8. Brandi said on

    I like the big type because it makes me feel like everything is being motivationally yelled at me.

    Yeah! Design! Go big or go home!

  9. Delwin said on

    Even more important than experimenting with over-the-top designs is standing strongly behind them. Your website is a bit too large for me, but if it works for you, that’s all that matters.

    I do think the mainstream design consensus has increased its font size preferences over the years. Looking back on some old designs, I see “font: 11px/17px ‘Lucida Grande’, Verdana, sans-serif;” — this was the declaration Apple used to use on its website. The main body font has grown now to 12px, but they’re using that type of content _much less_, focusing on larger headlines in Myriad Pro and magnificently huge pictures of their products.

    But over the years, I’ve seen websites grow from around 10-11px in font size to around 15-16px over the last 4 years or so. 15px Helvetica seems to be used especially often.

    It’s also happened in print — buy a paperback from the 1960s and it will be pretty small, like 9 or 10pt, sometimes even 8. Since then, we’ve increased line spacing and font size pretty dramatically. I’ve got a paperback of the Canterbury Tales from 1963 and can hardly stand to dive into that intimidating block of text.

    But books, when they were originally printed by hand, had massive, delicate, and ornate letters. That was the only way to do it. Blackletter books from the 1800s can get pretty small (and pretty illegible due to the typeface) but most of the type I’ve seen from that period has room to breath.

    So I wonder why we’ve been steadily increasing font sizes on the web. I think it involves 1) increasing screen resolution, 2) designers’ sensitivity to readability, and 3) increasing use of multimedia content. When there are more videos and photos competing for our attention, text often gets ignored. The only way to make readers read is by wisely deploying text to make it succinct, easy to read, and (most critically) very important.

  10. Matt DeVille said on

    There was a time when people did what they wanted to do on their sites instead of doing the sheep dance and copying each other incessantly. You’re doing what you want, which I respect. May 2012 be the year that other designers and bloggers start having online personalities again too!

  11. Rachel said on

    What I love about your site is that you’ve done what *you* wanted to do. Everybody will always have an opinion and you can’t guarantee what others are going to think – and it’s refreshing to see you just doing what you wanted to on this site, rather than tending to the masses. It’s what we should all be doing anyway. Where are we without experimentation?

  12. Justin said on

    Good for you Mr. Zeldman. You rock. I love the big type, but mostly I love the fact that you stick to what you believe is the right thing to do, no matter whether or not people think you’re nuts for it.

  13. Samuel said on

    I have to say that the first time I saw this new design it didn’t make sense for me, but now reading your reasons I can see that is ok, is your website you can do anything you like with it, thats the way new trends comes up.

    I love your final words.

    Cheers!

  14. Byron said on

    great, i didnt have to zoom my browser window!!

  15. Regis Kuckaertz said on

    What I like about zeldman.com is how the elements that make it unique—Franklin Gothic Condensed+Georgia, the limited color palette, the ornamented article date, etc.—remain yet they evolve to accommodate layout changes.

    I’m scratching my head over one little detail though: CODE elements look particularly out of place inside your prose because of the small type size (compared to normal text), e.g. in http://www.zeldman.com/2012/05/15/responsive-images-and-web-standards-at-the-turning-point-mat-marquis-in-ala/

    I suppose this is intended for contrast purposes and that, just as I was shocked the first time I saw the new design, I’ll get used to it, start to see its good aspects, and perhaps even appreciate it.

  16. Paceaux said on

    Yes, It is a big font-size, but I like it because it’s pleasant to read on a screen. I seldom enjoy reading anything on screen because the font-size is just too small, but this is a great balance. The only thing I’d suggest is increasing the line-height just a tad more. I’ve found that setting the line-height to 1.1618 has potential for looking just about awesome anywhere.

  17. Steve said on

    I love the big type. I do think the leading could be increased, and the measure shortened some. I personally think that is what is bothering people more, but they don’t realize it because they want to harp on the type size.

    I’ve been trying to increase type size for some time now, but it’s interesting that the same clients who want the type bigger on their print pieces, seem to always want it smaller on their websites :)

  18. Michal Bluma said on

    I have to say that your redesign came at a time when I, myself, wanted to “Go Big”.
    I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of stressing my eyes on my 23″ monitor. When I’m reading, I’m reading. I want to be able to sit back in my chair and take in the article from a distance.

    I definitely don’t miss those 8px Flash sites from the early 2000s.

    If an interface for an app has a font this big, I don’t believe it will benefit the user. If an article is set to this size, bring it!
    I want the content to be big, I want to take up a considerable size of my monitor; not a sixth of its horizontal space or become an unreadable 160 characters per line.

    This is your personal site. It is also the personal site of a very respected leader of the web development community.
    I applaud you for trying to push this, Mister Zeldman.

    Thank you.

    PS. Why are the comment fields set so small? ;)

  19. Ben Cortes said on

    I completely agree with you and feel the same way about my personal site. I’m redesigning it and using huge web fonts. Why because I read what all the great minds like you and Ethan have to say. I always get push back when I launch a redesign of my site but in the push back I do get some people that get what I’m doing. i can’t wait to push my new, responsive, big font, fixed menu site! That will last maybe one year if I’m lucky.

  20. Mark Jaquith said on

    Great. Now the rest of the web looks annoyingly small to me.

  21. Shane Scanlan said on

    Well written, well reasoned, well done.

  22. darryl said on

    As a long time follower of this site I really dig the new design. I like the large type and I admire the fact that you’re experimenting. There will always be haters, but hell with them. Let them hate.

  23. Brade said on

    Good post. I think all any of us wanted was an explanation, and here you’ve given it to us. I had very similar thoughts about type when I redesigned my site a couple years ago. I began to hate the idea of a “sidebar” and how it was always in your face, and I appreciated sleek mobile designs that caused us to see this truth more dramatically. I fully agree that Georgia has somehow managed not to age a day (whilst oddly enough the opposite could be said for Verdana). Most of all, I fully agree that one’s personal site should be the unbounded sandbox where a website creator can do whatever the hell he or she wants. Carpe Web.

  24. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    I’m scratching my head over one little detail though: CODE elements look particularly out of place inside your prose because of the small type size (compared to normal text)

    That is actually a screw-up I haven’t taken time to fix yet. (Blush)

  25. Chuck said on

    I think Twitter could take leaf from this book, 140 character posts would look perfect at this size. Nice work sir.

  26. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    CODE elements look particularly out of place inside your prose because of the small type size (compared to normal text)

    Fixed. Refresh. Thanks.

  27. Jamie Neely said on

    Jeffery,

    I’m not sure what I like most – the wit of your response, or the substance behind your design intention.

    Great stuff.

  28. Richard English said on

    I just wanted to see my comment in big letters!

    It also made my Friday. Best thing I read this week.

  29. Matt Wiebe said on

    Experiments are great. My initial reaction was to scratch my head, but you’ve defended and justified your design here perfectly. Design doesn’t speak for itself, that’s what we have words for.

    One note: you probably want to remove Benton Modern RE from your Webtype embed (and remove the weights of ITC Franklin that you’re not using). Most browsers have gotten pretty good about not downloading fonts that aren’t being used, but you especially don’t want to take that chance with mobile devices.

  30. Chris said on

    Great article. I don’t think it was necessary to explain anything to anyone. But you’re right “There are many like it, but this one is mine.” meaning you can do whatever you want. I think more designers should take risks and experiment with their sites more.

  31. Dan McDonough said on

    I’d love to see an analytical breakdown of the love it/hate it responses based on user birthdate. I’d guesstimate the breakpoint to be somewhere around 1968-1972. I think since so many of we Gen-xers are the ones that developed a lot of these design paradigms, and since we’re now hitting the age where we’re joining “the Presbyopteran Church,” as a friend once put it, we might now be feeling a little bit of humble remorse over our low-contrast, tiny-type-size youthful indiscretions.

    I, for one, welcome our new big-type overlords.

  32. James Young (@welcomebrand) said on

    Tough one to look in on, I’m still not a fan of the “desktop” version of the site.

    I really don’t see the level of craft that many of the comments here appear to but it’s entirely possible the shortcoming is on my side not yours.

    It’s interesting to see that a design which did have quite a lot of negative feedback on Twitter seems to have garnered a lot of positive feedback in the comments to this post now you’ve strongly defended (or explained?) your position and decisions.

    Experiment away, that should be a given and encouraged at all times but I do wonder to what extent your passionate defence, explanation & influence changes minds, not the necessarily design itself.

    J.

  33. Dave J said on

    The big type — I like it. It’s easy to recline here and read your site comfortably. On a lot of sites that have content to actually read I feel like I’m hunched and squinting and getting sucked into the page, in a bad way, and I realize now this includes on my own website. Keep up the good work.

  34. Jonathan said on

    At first, your redesign took me back to the late 1990s in the best possible sense — not in the sense that screen resolutions were low, screen sizes were small, graphics were generally terrible, and both web design and browsers were wonky, but in the sense that words often filled the page. In the absence of sophistication, we sometimes had pages filled with words.

    So I enjoy the redesign.

    And amen to the manifesto. It seems to be a worthy extension of one of my favorites of your past posts, The Vanishing Personal Site. In a way.

  35. Justin said on

    It’s been a while since I ready through an entire blog post. I normally just read the first paragraph, scan the first half and skip the rest. I actually read this entire thing. I attribute it to the fact that my eyes were not tired 15 seconds in.

  36. kramer said on

    For some reason the large type makes it seem like you are always shouting. :)

  37. ranti said on

    *thumbs up*

    Also, +1

  38. Mike said on

    >> This is my personal site. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

    Amen to that. Looks nice to me, btw.

  39. Jean Kaplansky said on

    Speaking for those of us who are less than a few diopters away from echolocation: Thank you. I actually felt my eye muscles relax as I read through your comments. That never happens.

  40. Régis Kuckaertz said on

    Fixed. Refresh. Thanks.

    American Typewriter FTW! Well, thanks to YOU for your attention.

  41. Richard Fink said on

    >We can’t keep charging for ads that our
    >layouts train readers to ignore.

    Well you can, but who will pay the rates?

    >The present day designer refuses to die.

    Nice twist on Edgard Varese via FZ. (Right?)

  42. Stefan Seiz said on

    But why is the Type so tiny on mobile then? Doesn’t correspond to the desktop site IMO.
    I can’t read the mobile site without glasses, I can read the desktop site very well without glasses though.

  43. Jurgen said on

    While I was reading this article, my wife (who is not even remotely acquainted with the web design industry) glanced over and said: “Wow, I love that big type. If only more websites were like this.” You’re onto something here Mr Zeldman. And may I just say that, as a fellow Frank Zappa fan, I love the closing sentence.

  44. felix said on

    I like the big type. However the site is broken in Android 4.0. The text column is about 30% of the width of the screen.

  45. Laura said on

    “It encourages me to write better and more often.”

    That seems like a terrifically good reason to have big type. It is your site, after all, and it should be set up to accomplish your goals, not someone else’s.

    I don’t hate the big type, but I do find that it encourages me to read less of your writing. The lines are too hard to scan, too hard to move from one line to the next smoothly. (It may be a line-spacing thing – with type that large, I’d personally give it a little more breathing room.) But whether I (or anyone) read more or less of what you write may be completely irrelevant to your goals for the site.

    I do commend you on the design experiment, though, and I like the conversation it’s started. The web is so so so boring visually right now – everything looks the same, everywhere – so even if I have questions about the success of this design, it sure is nice to see something that looks different.

  46. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    I don’t hate the big type, but I do find that it encourages me to read less of your writing. The lines are too hard to scan, too hard to move from one line to the next smoothly.

    Laura: What happens when you Command-Minus?

  47. Calvin Koepke said on

    Love the large type size — makes for a great reading experience in the article. It does, however, make the comment section rather overwhelming.

    Great article.

  48. Rodny Lobos said on

    Congrats for the “Mine is bigger than yours” Manifesto.
    Experimenting @ http://www.rl-ds.com

    Designer and big font fan.

  49. Katie Diduch said on

    BITCH SLAP! hahahahahahah

  50. tomexx said on

    *CLAP – CLAP – CLAP – CLAP*

  51. Aaron said on

    For the first time ever, I didn’t have to click Instapaper Mobilizer or Reader in Safari to read a website. I love the big type! I can sit back and relax and read the text, instead of having to lean forward and squint. Thank you!

  52. Olaus said on

    Great article! If we aren’t experimenting with our own personal sites, how will we ever come up with new ideas for our clients? I applaud you for doing it your way and being so transparent about your process (loved the live re-design stuff). The type is definitely over the top, but it has an impact and a readability to it that is appealing. It also plays well across different browsers/operating-systems where smaller point sizes can end up looking pretty degraded. Nice work Mr. Zeldman!

  53. fjpoblam said on

    Great post, sir. I’ve been publishing in “rather” big print, but I haven’t had the courage to go with the blatantly huge Georgia yet. I’ve used its slightly smaller cousin Times New Roman. Subtle difference, especially for long blocks of text. I’m looking at your site, as I type this comment, on an iPad, and it surely is comfortable to read. I’ll wander over to my laptop and look again. Maybe you’ll inspire me. Thanks.

  54. Jesse Gavin said on

    Saves me the work of jacking up the font size (like I do on nearly every other website). I love it.

  55. Christopher Burd said on

    I checked out your site using Readability, and it looks almost the same. This is good.

  56. Jeff Croft said on

    Frankly, I don’t have a strong opinion either weay on the big type. But I do have a strong, and very positive, reaction to the “fuck you, this is my personal site and I’m going to use it to experiment” attitude. In many ways, Twitter killed the blog star, and it took a lot of the design experimentation on the web with it. Personal sites are where we all used to play and explore. I understand why personal sites have changed (or in many cases, gone away) with the advent of social, but it doesn’t feel like the design playground should have to go with it. I’m glad to see someone still trying bold new ideas.

  57. u said on

    love it. large type.
    “those who don’t design for readers might soon not be designing for anyone” but the almost all the time I ended up for the client and still struggling to verbally explain and satisfy the client’s {internal in-house or external, both behave with same tone of voice and attitude!! :)} unimaginable ego. finally i find consolation in my all time favorite proverb “tie the donkey where the owner wants it” and let him/she find the happiness in self destruction! :)

  58. Matthew Crist said on

    I love the big type. Of course it’s probably just because I am getting older. I find it easier to read. It’s a style that I have grown to love on sites like Trent Walton’s and now yours. My old eyes thank you.

  59. Leo M. said on

    Just because there are sooo many sycophants, and I’m GenX, I’m going to be contrarian:

    * It’s not a generational thing, it’s a *platform* thing. The first time I saw this screed it was on an iPhone with a crappy 3G connection. The site didn’t load because of your webfonts loaded FIRST, so you got ‘straight to Instapaper’ quip on Twitter. You couldn’t find a common font resident to the user? Or have the ‘heavy stuff’ load after? Remember, telcos are now metering bandwidth.

    * Now that I see the ALLCAPS granny glasses version of the site… uh… how can I put this delicately? If you deprive the user of *their* experience & options then it’s not UX anymore. Some folks are going to feel ‘yelled at.’ The rest will be learning hotkeys to shrink your fonts.

    * “This is my rifle.. uh, website…” remember where that quote came from? It’s not a ‘fuck you’.. it’s a DI brainwashing an assumed puke to keep his rifle clean.

    Your users are not pukes. If you don’t accommodate, then you’re right. This will be your website. Alone.

    -Leo (out of the web game…really)

  60. Bob Monsour said on

    This rocks to the high heavens…no matter which device I use to read it, I can, in fact, read it…without glasses…without double tap. As it should be.

    Thanks.

  61. Shannon Mølhave said on

    It amazes me someone would have the gall to ask if you’ve heard of responsive design, where’s the respect people?? Makes me think of Paul Boag’s article on people in our industry being “dickheads” (http://boagworld.com/working-in-web-design/dealing-with-the-dickheads/).

    You SHOULD experiment with your personal site, do whatever the hell you want, how else does web design progress without experimentation? Carry on Zeldman, carry on.

  62. Joe Clark said on

    I’d like your design better if you and everyone in your company and its band of merry men would learn to typeset paragraphs. Microsoft Word is not a model for such typesetting.

  63. Vaughan Osborne said on

    Aligns with my feelings lately – saw a beautiful site the other day (running on that ruby thingee, toto) and it got me thinking about the primacy of words. The one thing I’m still trying to figure out is how these approaches work with read it later type services & responsive design & mobile. Interesting read Mr Zeldman and you did one amazing thing (which I love the Internet for): made be think.

  64. Vaughan Osborne said on

    Previous typo reduced my sentiment but you understand.

  65. Jason said on

    The new design looks fantastic on an iPad, which is where I saw it first. I then checked it out on my Mac to see what all the fuss is about, and unfortunately I agree that the type is simply way, way, way too big (and I’m on a 23″, 1920×1080 display; did you forget that the 11″ MacBook Air exists?). Sure, you can hit command-minus, and that helps *this* time, but next time I visit the site (or even if I open an article in a new tab) it will be back to the same size. Do I feel like hitting command-minus every time? Nope. Think about this: If any application required the user to keep setting a simple-but-important preference every time the app was used, nobody would put up with it. Why should a website be any different?

    Of course, it’s your site, do what you want with it (I very much agree with you on that point, and you get full points for standing by your work). But it’s more than a little ironic that you mentioned, in this same post, how poorly it reflects on web designers that most people rely on third-party apps to read the content on sites, because that’s exactly how I’ll continue to read *this* site (especially now). It’s much, much nicer to read in Reeder (on iPad), and even the very boring NetNewsWire (Mac).

    I think you have to decide whether you’re standing by the fact that it’s your site and you’ll do what you please with it, OR that you care about the experience of the people who actually visit the site. At least in this case, it certainly isn’t both.

    I do admire your conviction, and it honestly doesn’t even matter to me, as I’ll hardly ever see the design anyway (viewing content on its actual page just doesn’t fit with how I read news and blogs), but from a design point of view, I suggest *you* should hit “command-minus” (so to speak) on the CSS itself. A single press of command-minus in Safari takes this from gaudy to beautiful; make *that* the default and you’ve got a winner.

    It does look great as-is on mobile devices though.

  66. bowerbird said on

    wow.

    two things amaze me about this…

    the first is that you have _finally_
    said something that makes sense.

    the second is that the web told me,
    _almost_instantly,_ that you had…
    i’d just about given up on the notion
    that anything worthwhile is capable
    of getting any attention these days…

    this double-dose gives me strength
    to go on a little bit longer, hoping…

    -bowerbird

  67. giuliano said on

    What’s wrong with this type size?

  68. Bart said on

    Is the experiment really to try a big font size that pleases you (and your poor vision?) or is it to pick a font size that works better for the devices you use (a phone or tablet) irregardless of how they’ll look on older devices like a desktop computer?

    You brought up Flipboard and Instapaper as if your design is in the same vain, but I’m sure they spent a lot of time trying to find the *optimal* size for most readers on the devices their products were being used on. Their attempts to find a good balance of font size and line height is amirable and likely has had an impact on other peoples’ designs even on the desktop, but I don’t see what you’re doing (purposefully not trying to find the optimal…) as inspiring anyone.

    You asked someone if they can Control-minus on the page… I’m reading your site on an iPad and I find both the font size and tight line spacing uncomfortable. I can’t Control-minus your page.

  69. ⓕⓣ said on

    Always a pleasure to read sir. Now even more so. This internet thing is going to be huge one day.

  70. Spencer Holtaway said on

    I like that I can read the type comfortably on my computer without leaning in. My back thanks you.

  71. John Lascurettes said on

    As someone with a high-res monitor, I welcome our future single-column, large-type overlords. Thanks for saving me a command+plus+plus. Let the rest command-minus.

  72. Rod said on

    On my iPhone the text size looks absolutely brilliant – no moving from side to side trying to read a full line. Of course, you’re not trying to fit in advertisements into a side bar which distracts from the reading pleasure. I wonder how many advertisers would be happy to see their bit stuck down at the bottom of the page.

  73. Laura said on

    > What happens when you Command-Minus?

    Heh. That’s what I have been doing when I read here lately. I have to go down two clicks, though – and then the line-spacing really really feels tight, but in reading for content, the line-scanning is easier at that size.

    But I do hate to alter your design like that. Feels like I’m not respecting your design intentions when I change the type size you chose. You picked it for a reason, with thoughtfulness and intent and meaning. Feels weird to override that.

    I’m old enough to remember when the web was a bit wilder and experimental and site design wasn’t such a cookie cutter affair. (For those tabulating: 1966.) So while I may have to tweak your type size to read comfortably, I very sincerely appreciate the individuality and boldness of your design choices. The web used to be fun – I hope that many more will take your lead and dare to try some different things again.

  74. Ricardo Henriques said on

    Zeldman my man, you’re absolutely right (again!)! I find myself using readability more and more because of typography, (even if humans do like predictability ). As a designer, thanks for the eye opening post (again!)

    May I suggest increasing the line height, it would help (humans ) the “readability” :)

    A fan since Netscape 7 – Ricardo

  75. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    I wonder how many advertisers would be happy to see their bit stuck down at the bottom of the page.

    Hi, Rod. As a co-founder of The Deck advertising network (the network that supplies the ad on my site and lots of other sites), I don’t mind the ad appearing after the content, and apparently, neither do the advertisers. The ad may not be above the fold, but it is very prominent at the line of demarcation between content and footer. The space allotted to it greatly exceeds the actual space the advertiser paid for. They’ve gotta love that. And I’ve removed it from locations users have trained themselves to ignore. We all ignore ads in the sidebar. It’s the content story that dare not speak its name: advertising pays for content, and our designs have trained content fans to ignore ads. By moving the ad somewhere else, I’m actually calling attention to it and giving the advertiser bang for their buck … while still providing a less cluttered (and therefore, I hope, better) reading experience.

  76. M. Douglas Wray said on

    Thank you Jeffrey. Lovely!

  77. Mel Walker said on

    Finally! A site I can read on my iPhone without zooming and scrolling back and forth!

  78. john said on

    Ethan invented responsive design? You sure about that?

  79. yall said on

    more props for the simple, clean layout and BIG type!

  80. Bob Thompson said on

    I’m OK with the big font here, but what’s up with the implementation on Forbes.com.

    That is one place where bigger type is very awkward. Can someone dissect what’s going on there for me in an article?

  81. Ezra said on

    I do the same thing on my site, my own thing. When visiting this page, my iPad really looks like a big iPod Touch, just like non iPad users think of it, but now I can share it with my vision impaired friends from across the room too, without having to send them a link. Sharing is now faster! (the speed of light) Creative people need a playground, and why not play here, where you are the boss. Maybe clients will want something different too, which breaks the regurgitated monotony of most predictable mainstream sites out there.

  82. Dan Shockley said on

    For a few seconds, I was confused – I had opened the link to this page in a new tab, and yet it loaded at about the font size I usually have to zoom to every time I load a page. My fingers were poised to hit command-+ but then I stopped. I was confused, I read your introduction. Then I realized that you were trying out a design that doesn’t strain readers’ eyes.

    Thank you.

  83. Moze said on

    Whats interesting is that I actually read this text. I think that says something.

  84. Richard said on

    I always thought this was a site about a guy with a photo-real avatar from a time before faces were booked and getting linked was in. I can see I’ve been grossly misinformed.

  85. Phil Lewis said on

    Small things make a big difference. Well played Sir!

  86. Brett said on

    My only beef: change the all-caps heds to title case. The rest is (no surprisingly) fantastic.

  87. PD said on

    I have a computer too. We should be friends.

  88. Tom said on

    This design works.
    It focuses on communication. Your words/sentences/paragraphs and thoughts go straight into the brain, without visual disruption.
    Your thoughts come across as strong and confident – bold clarity.

    It is a pleasure to read.

  89. Roger said on

    Excellent stuff Jeffrey! I like this design a lot. It this going to start the trend of large font websites? I hope so. I also like the single column concept, lets me focus on the content alone.

  90. Marton Sari said on

    What an utterly boring, pointless writing.

  91. Lanny Heidbreder said on

    I find the large type overwhelming and hard to read, but as luck would have it, the browser vendors implemented a feature *just last decade* called “Zoom” that lets me fix the problem with a single keystroke! Fricking Web, how does it work?

  92. Greg said on

    Absolutely love it. Thank – you. Came from Gruber’s site. I buy his T-shirts every year . Love ‘em. THIS deserves a T-Shirt. I will buy.
    Thanks again. I so agree with everything you said.

  93. Scott Sherwood said on

    Love the site! Initially I thought I had zoomed in and zoomed out to check if I was missing something (before even beginning to read) once I realised I wasn’t I was very happy to read at your default size. It was quite refreshing to be able to see the content I was interested in without being distracted by 1 million other things or struggling to see the words due to low contrast. I am also with you on letting Georgia speak for itself its one of my favourite fonts. Hope everyone who reads this is inspired to keep experimenting it will make the web a better place for us all. Great article!

  94. Matthew Mascioni said on

    Amazing work with your site, man. You’ve inspired me to push boundaries.

  95. Hamranhansenhansen said on

    People have been making these kinds of comments about minimalist Web design since the very beginning. People have always told me I make the content too big and what have I got against colums, anyway?

    One way I have found to quiet naysayers (when they need to be quieted) is to try to add context with subtle visual cues. It is amazing how much shutting up a little skeuomorphism can buy you. A strip of leather can suggest a book and suddenly everybody understands the big text.

    I just came here from the AT&T site. The experience there is like a Rubik’s cube compared to here. I mean that as a compliment to this site, of course. But AT&T’s site sure looks expensive!

  96. Mauricio said on

    As I see it: text is too small on my iPhone 4s and too big
    on my 13″ MacBook Pro. For me it’s hard to read on both devices, but in the MacBook I can control text size.

  97. Juan Tascon said on

    Seeing this responsive design feels so natural that makes you wonder why we haven’t been doing it in all websites all along. I see this creating a trend.

  98. Altern Egro said on

    This looked normal to me since I always zoom my browser anyway :-)

  99. zax said on

    WOW! Fantastic, looks brilliant on my iPhone and especially on my 27″ iMac with the standard 2560 x 1440 screen res.

  100. Beto said on

    Sometimes we tend to forget that our own personal sites are there to afford what client work can’t do for us – push the edge with minimal consequences. I for one am happy to see a site I can read without putting my glasses on (yet another sign of coming of age). Funny how we’ve crossed the trend path from ultra-small to ultra-big font sizes in ten years. Or maybe is just that we are all getting older. For a site whose content is in textual form, it makes sense to allow text to drive the design. Well done mister Z.

  101. DensityDuck said on

    I’m sure this looks absolutely awesome on an iPhone.

    I’m not on an iPhone.

  102. Ellie said on

    At first glance I found the new layout very interesting. I instantly realized that this is responsive, mobile first, without even looking under the hood. Interesting approach actually.

    But I got to tell you that I found it very hard to scan it for some reason and I use a pretty high screen resolution. My eyes starting hearting from the zing-zang! But it’s not even 6 o clock in the morning yet so my eyes are prone to hurt. Anyway…

    I’m on Ctr– right now. And I think your visitors demographic know that option too…

  103. Walter Dufresne said on

    My Brooklyn ophthalmologist agrees with Dan McDonough’s guesstimated breakpoint for love it/hate it. Dr. Lieberman says it’s always people turning 41 years old, making 2012 the year for people born in 1971 to fall in love with Zeldman’s new design.

  104. Thomas said on

    This type size is roughly what I bump most other websites up to anyways. My eyesight isn’t terrible or anything but I’ve got a large monitor and this is very comfortable to read, why would I slow my reading down deliberately by reading smaller text?

  105. Kevin P. said on

    Your site looks great. I’m tired of squinting and zooming.

  106. John Corbin said on

    Universal access dogmatists would have us design layout for normal vision, assuming readers have corrected their vision problems or to set up the site for Access via the browser/OS visual access tools.

    Hogwash, I say.

    The only reason type has been small for body copy is because the space has been too valuable in the eyes of publishers. With the implementation of retina displays, most OS and App widgetry is simply too tiny for users to recognize at a glance, especially on screens of extreme size, small or large.

    Web page real estate is practically free compared to mass printing. So use it.

    The size of type itself is unimportant. It is the size as it relates to the viewable area that matters. Combine this with the effect of reading sight distance and you have entered a world many of you may not know well: newspaper publishing.

    How so? Unlike books and magazines, newspapers are intended to be read at a relaxed arm’s length from the eyes. This equates to a distance 20-30% further away than one might read a hardback novel or a typical magazine like Cigar Aficionado. Yet, newspaper publishers often use body type in the 9-11 point range. Relatively speaking, the New York Times wants its readers to enjoy reading what is effectively 6-7 point type, once typical reading distance is taken into account. This is tiring work, so most readers fold the paper once or twice and bring it closer to their eyes. This is not how the page was designed to be read, otherwise the pages would BE those sizes– that’s what pages are for.

    Even as newspaper subscriptions and ad revenues crash, publishers keep their body copy tiny, making the readers (who are getting demographically older, with poorer vision) work harder to consume the content for which they pay. It’s like selling a car that has an ever-shrinking steering wheel: eventually it doesn’t matter how well you can drive, the wheel becomes too sensitive to be workable. So you find something else to drive.

    What does this have to do with larger type on a web site?

    Larger type, when viewed at the right distance, is easier to read. For those who see the type as too large, consider that you may simply be too close. Consider that your brain may be burning cycles deciphering too-small text in lieu of burning cycles absorbing the content conveyed by that text.

    Or maybe I’m full of it.

  107. Jim Muirhead said on

    I love the big type, the simple layout and the thinking. Time to start selling simplicity to ourselves and our clients.

  108. Rafaël Blais Masson said on

    I like this type. Hyphenation would add a nice touch. http://blog.fontdeck.com/post/9037028497/hyphens

  109. Tamura Jones said on

    Great to read that I am not the only who thinks most sites are way too cluttered.
    I’ve had the same clean and simple design with flexible layout for years. It’s not perfect, yet I regularly receive but positive comments about it.
    I understand fascination with one widget or another, but do not believe that readers enjoy hunting for content squeezed in between ads and widget-overloaded sidebars.
    On the contrary, many readers seem relieved to be able to just read an article.

  110. Kurt Griffith said on

    I think it’s fab and I certainly do get the point. I have constant squabbles with clients and even other designers at times over readability and usability. Georgia is lovely and a classic font up there with New Century Schoolbook (a personal fave.. ) But so often I have to shut my Designers mouth and do whatever silly frakkin’ thing the clients wants, and get paid and pay the mortgage.

    So, it’s your site, and I say carry on!

  111. Parker Bennett said on

    If it really bugs you, two taps on the Zoom Out command…

    Personally, I LOVE IT. But my eyeglass prescription is getting old.

  112. chadchat said on

    I’m on my iPhone, what the hell are you talking about?

  113. Sandra said on

    I love the look.

    I wish that the default size of browser text was this big.

    But if it changed to that across the board, all the sites that “went big” back in spring 2012 will become big+big = too big.

    For a long while, I had my default browser text set as big (when I had my screen further away). Many layouts became messed up.

  114. Hanan Cohen said on

    You should choose your readers more carefully.

    This way you will not have to begin your manifestos like you did in this one.

  115. James Watson said on

    I think the size of text should be default as the design will get destroyed.

  116. Reuben said on

    I wonder if the point of good design has been missed. The object should be to transfer a message, no? I read to the end of your post, so that should tick the box for a successful design. I’d imagine many of the critics did also.
    That makes me question the role of layout vs content. Big font and a clean interface can’t save bad writing. Conversely, good prose might deliver its message in small font size with variable margins from ads in the middle of the page.
    So, congratulations on a nice design but also thanks for expressing your ideas with well chosen words.

  117. Mike Gossmann said on

    I’m all for large font sizes. Large font sizes are good. I find this site very readable on my large desktop screen, and I find it very readable on my laptop screen, and I find it very readable on mobile, and on my android tablet in portrait mode. It’s landscape that always seems to give me trouble. The screen size is actually the same as my laptop (1280×800), so you’d think the font size would be the same, but it’s not. While the laptop displays something reasonable, some off-the-cuff math says that the line height on the tablet is around 50px.

    I can fit about 14 lines of text on the 10″ screen at once, with no way of making that smaller. I know the simple solution is just to read the site with the device in portrait mode, but this is a transformer tablet, and when the keyboard’s attached, it forces landscape mode, so I have to detach the keyboard to read your posts. When it gets to the point where I’m reconfiguring my hardware to read the site, well I’m sorry, but I just have to question that.

  118. Peter Fransen said on

    Dear Jeffrey, you’re (sort of) repeating yourself:

    “Why small fonts? Personal design decision on a personal site. You can enlarge the type in some browsers, not all. That day is coming.”
    (from “Jeffrey Zeldman Bites Back” on Slashdot.org, http://tech.slashdot.org/story/00/05/18/1433233/jeffrey-zeldman-bites-back)

    The fact that I remembered those words from an interview 12 years old, says something about the impression they left.

    Thank you for your sharing your passion.

  119. Stuart Barr said on

    I just read this on an iPad and I can say that the text size is about perfect for an effortless read. Keep up the experimentation, the web needs more of this.

  120. Tom McLaughlan said on

    Congrats for publishing the only website I know that doesn’t need to be ‘Instapapered’ to be accessible.

    The large type is wonderful and, in itself, communicates a story. It says “Hey, I’m open to everybody, including the visually impaired and those who just like their eyes to be able to relax a bit. My emphasis is on the message and that means I want you, dear reader, to be able to understand what I’m saying – to be able to read it sans clutter and sans squinting”.

    Yup. Bravo.

  121. Glenn Haggis said on

    I LOVE your new-look site Jeffrey – for me it is ‘generous and larger than life’ just like you are – well to me anyway. I am fairly new to design on the web (a not so ‘young gun’ 54 year old) and my first exposure to this exciting world was via your influential ‘web standards’ book. It was inspiring, but more than that I got to know a little about you. I have been introduced to countless designers through podcasts, interviews and websites and through my vicarious dealings with you, my friend – thanks for sharing a big part of yourself with me!

  122. Maya said on

    Love the big fonts and absolutely a pleasure to read without getting distracted. I just hope others learn a lesson from this

  123. Anthony said on

    “This is my personal site. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” Tacky, trite, and platitudinous; maybe your site is your weapon, but I don’t think it’s nearly as effective as a Marine and their rifle.

  124. Shaunak said on

    Absolutely love the big font and I agree with you, the tired old fonts, if used well, will look amazing. Just as they do here. :)

  125. Jacob said on

    And that’s why I don’t read this site in Instapaper. You save me a click or two. That’s a lot of life. Seriously. Thanks.

  126. Alessandro Segalini said on

    It’s no surprise to me to see this happening on the Web, I applaud your design, Jeffrey. Nice article, too. Aside from my love for Courier 11pt on Mac, this is about the size I use when I write in TextEdit (just because there is no point in using Word ever, if not to open client’s files).

  127. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Dear Peter Fransen, wow! Thank you for sharing that memory.

  128. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    With the implementation of retina displays, most OS and App widgetry is simply too tiny for users to recognize at a glance, especially on screens of extreme size, small or large.

    My thoughts exactly, John Corbin. And I find your newspaper versus book reading analogy fascinating and relevant.

  129. Christian said on

    Slightly too big but a good step in the right direction! ;)

  130. Adam said on

    In some parts of NYC there is a saying. “The BIGGA! The BETTA! ” do you JZ!

  131. Noah Robischon said on

    Here’s a funny anecdote about using big headlines: One of the Gawker network redesigns from several years ago bumped up the headlines to screaming 18pt (or close to it). Internally we loved the look. But after making it public we began getting a lot of complaints from readers who said that they desperately wanted to read, say, Jezebel but the huge type made it impossible to hide their non-work browsing from coworkers who could literally read the headlines from across the room. The site was more readable and accessible, but the content and context trumped the design.

  132. Le Roux said on

    I’m interested to hear about your thinking behind the responsiveness (can’t decide if I should put that in quotes or not) of this site?

    As far as I can tell it looks like you set the viewport size to 960 and then leave it up to the browser to scale. That’s quite smart, but probably the source of the vocal minority’s annoyance with how the site looks on desktop browsers.

    Would be interesting to see how this method could be enhanced by combining other responsive design techniques.

    By the way, on my android 2.3 phone it felt like the horizontal page gutters were maybe taking up just a little too much space. Many lines are about 4 words wide. I saw some others said that the fonts feel too small on mobile, on mine it felt maybe a bit too big. Narrower gutters and fonts a notch smaller would probably be a better compromise on my htc desire, at least.

    I hope you start a large font web design trend. I think 12px is way too small for most content.

  133. Gotham said on

    All hail the new web design !! I love it.. Especially now that i am 40+ and need reading glasses.. That Daring Fireball site is so darn difficult to read.. I love the big type.. this is how all text-heavy sites should be..

  134. Robert Mohns said on

    When you first launched new design a month or so back(?), my first view was on an iPad and the letters were half an inch high. It was like reading a child’s large type book, but not in a pleasant way. I tweeted my surprise. Within a day or so you had started tweaking the type, and I think you’ve honed in on something very nice.

    Like many successful designs, it started out pushing a little too far, then dialed in on human usability.

    The best part of this design is the meta design: you wanted to make a useful, meaningful design change, and did it — but weren’t so arrogant to declare that just because you launched, it was done. No. Instead you kept working to make it better.

    And THAT is what we should take as inspiration. Not the details — large type, minimal add-on content, removing clutter, responsive design, nice as they may be, are “just” the end product — but the commitment to refining to better serve humans.

  135. Bahi said on

    I help photographers with digital workflow (including prepping work for the web) so a lot of my time is spent watching people use their computers; the few that don’t lean in and squint when reading web pages are the ones who’ve learned to zoom in, a trick I’ve been using for a decade, well before browsers implemented it as well as they do today. Your design make a lot of sense and the type looks terrific.

    Remember when a 14″ Apple Color Display was 640 pixels x 480, a 17″ (before the multi-sync version) was 832 x 624 and a 21″ was 1152 x 870? Increasing pixel density has had the same effect on point sizes that inflation has had on dollar values. Stick with it — people will eventually get it. We’re going to go this way with our own site, currently too shabby to link to here.

  136. Arno Peck said on

    There are not only the new devices (phones, tablets, etc.), but also the resolution of desktop computers are increasing quite fast! What about the retina displays in desktops?
    For all this stuff a bigger font is welcome…

  137. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    The best part of this design is the meta design: you wanted to make a useful, meaningful design change, and did it — but weren’t so arrogant to declare that just because you launched, it was done. No. Instead you kept working to make it better.

    And THAT is what we should take as inspiration. Not the details — large type, minimal add-on content, removing clutter, responsive design, nice as they may be, are “just” the end product — but the commitment to refining to better serve humans.

    That is very sweet, and rather profound. Thank you, Robert.

  138. Leo Robert Klein said on

    “A few say they hate it and suggest I’ve lost my mind.”

    What’s wrong with losing your mind? It’s your site after all!

  139. Roger said on

    Now if you could just train those folks who work on Photoshop Elements 10. In theis case, font size is only part of the problem; they also put gray font on a black background. Now try reading that when squinting 70 year old eyes at microfont. Those people surely were not thinking of babyboomers.

  140. Nonprofit Tech said on

    I admit to bumping the size down when reading. That’s due more so to my new glasses, which make it hard for me to focus on text that big, that close to my face.

    I’ve been playing with the Command+ and Command- keys a lot with these new glasses, but I love the focus on content. It is what I come for. A nice easy to read page without invoking Reader. Excellent.

  141. DaveR said on

    Got here from Gruber’s site. It looked absolutely gorgeous on my iPad. Doesn’t look too bad on my desktop either.

    I love it!

  142. Bart said on

    Since this piece mentions some critique about your website, I figured I might include a bit of my own.

    Below every article is a button labeled “Previously on zeldman.com”. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this constitutes bad design; however, a normal anchor (hyperlink) would suffice in this occasion because of the following reasons:

    – The button actually serves the purpose of a hyperlink (no form is submitted)
    – A hyperlink has superior features for the purpose (ability to open links in a new tab by holding cmd/ctrl, ability to see the URI of the web page you’re about to visit in the status bar, select/copy, …)
    – Since the button is heavily formatted using CSS, its purpose is less obvious.

  143. Eric said on

    Nice! I’m tired of hitting Ctrl-+ 3 or 4 times to bring fonts up to a reasonable size. Now I’m nostalgic for suck.com- that design made sense then, and even more sense now in the days of 16:9 screen ratios that are good for movies and nothing else at all.

  144. Gus Bird said on

    Again with another senior moment? Need to up the power on those magnifier specs. I thought it was my problem (what’s wrong with the browser, etc.) at first – a sure sign of my own low self esteem? Then I realized you were just being creative. I’m wondering if you influenced those Ars Technica people – they recently did that redesign with really large fonts (Noticia Bold, etc.) – I think they’ve tweaked it a little for the better now. Don’t be hood-winked by all this praise in the comments – everyone likes you no matter what you do to the website :)

  145. Daniel Perez said on

    Great Site. Simplicity should always come first in design.

    It is a difficult idea for many to understand with all the information and media overload.

    But with simple, you have to have a clear, objective.
    To get there, write a simple website that does what need.
    That’s it.

  146. Don Ulrich said on

    Native, adaptive, portable. An easy read. I may not always agree with you. I think that is healthy. But this is simple and traditional well done. I started in letterpress 30 years ago. What was true then is true now.

  147. Irvin said on

    I find this site looks truly fugly. But you having the balls (and open mind) to take a creative risk is a thing of beauty.

    I depart now with a smile, shaking my head and – believe it or not – a positive experience.

    Good work. Bad design. Excellent work – for reasons unknown. Looks bad, but feels good. Magical, in a weirdly endearing manner.

  148. Peter Schwartz said on

    Love it!!! We need more of this in this world!

  149. Bartek said on

    It’s just too damn big to read.

  150. Joindup said on

    Couldn’t agree more JZ. Love the large text, although I prefer to call it ‘clear’. We managed to convince a client to go even bigger – with a content first, mobile first, responsive design at http://www.ifss.edu.au – and the client loved it!

  151. Camilo said on

    The first thing I do when I came here was send it to read later, before I read anything, my habits seems to change faster than my concience.
    Great text and context, this is what I am expecting from following your posts.
    Thank you!

  152. Matt Simpson said on

    My eyes sent a message to my brain… “So this is why you bought a big monitor, dufus…” It is nice to be able to sit a reasonable difference from the monitor and comfortably receive the communication of ideas over the web without squinting or being distracted by clutter and non-essential information. The modern web is becoming more like TV – we left the advertisers define it. Beyond the obvious flashing ads and pop-ups, by rewarding sites based on the number of hits the behavior of the site owners is shaped and controlled, and in turn the type of users visiting a site and their behavior is changed and/or rewarded. And if they can’t get you directly, then they will try to lure you in with “social networking”, because many people need to belong to a group for validation and rewards. I salute you and your site. I was able to quickly and comfortably read your posting and comprehend the ideas you are sharing without any nonsense or distraction.

  153. Mark said on

    I Like it! In days when life is already too cluttered, your approach just makes things simpler. Good rationale and I’m sorry that others made you justify your approach. This the web where freedom reigns! One other note: Boomers are getting older and their eyesight is getting worse, big, type is welcome.

  154. Mordy Golding said on

    Your “experiment” ultimately reveals the underlying truth. People value what you say. Hence, your words are the focus. As they should be. Your words are why people visit your site. Your words are why people scroll — probably without even realizing it — because they are enveloped in what you have to say. It is design that works because it is design that doesn’t get in the way of communication. Bravo.

    “Clients” may not have anything that people are interested in reading (or buying) and hence, “design” must take over and find yet another way to entice you.

    Bottom line — design should reveal your true product, not hide it behind a wall of images, shiny buttons, drop shadows, or others — be it responsive or not.

    On a final note, I’d argue that you’ve created the ultimate responsive design — a site where the USER responds to the content, not the browser. And at the end of the day, is that not what it’s all about?

  155. Laura said on

    I’ve been a graphic designer for over 20 years. I believe type is sexy at every size and clean design always rocks my world. Looks great. Keep up all your wonderful work.

  156. Ja'far Railton said on

    The site looks fine. You just need to pay some attention to the avatar which seems to get a bit pixelated at this resolution. ;-)

  157. C. Enrique Ortiz said on

    Big type and simple layout is a pleasure to read. Simple, clean, to the point. This is even more important on readers and mobile devices. The ad placement/monetization aspects can also be simplified using simple layouts and big types, both in desktop and devices and readers.

    Keep the experimentation! Love it.

    ceo

  158. Paul Christian said on

    I love it! Peeling away everything to get to the core :) + This is optimal readability…. especially with 1440×900 now being the ‘default minimal resulution’ (Alterbox, Nielsen) and screens becomming larger and larger. Besides, this is not just a new layout is it? Its a statemant and conversation starter… could design ever be more fulfilling?

  159. Gavin said on

    I think it’s great. It makes the ‘Reader’ function in Safari or Instapaper redundant. I just spent all morning reading news media sites with the Reader function because so little of their screen real estate was given over to their content. If you could pitch this kind of layout to the Chicago Sun-Times, I’m sure there would be a lot of grateful readers.

  160. Niels Matthijs said on

    I’m sure you own a computer, but I’m equally sure you don’t have a Windows (8) OS lying around. Your type really shows up horribly (in FF). The weight of the type is all over the place, it makes for a very uneven feel, like letters start dancing across the screen. I’ve seen it on other OSes and it looks much better, but isn’t that the point of responsive, that it responds to a reader’s context? (picture)

    I’m still not a big fan of the size either. It’s like sitting on the front row of a movie theater. Sure everything is bigger, but you can’t see the entire screen at once, which makes for a very nervous reading experience. Usability is actually declining as I don’t have smooth scrolling and keeping track of lines is hard, even in these short paragraphs.

    Still, that’s all very personal though, and could (should) be fixed by browser zooming. Sadly there is still much size difference between type sizes. When I zoom the site becomes ultra small, type in the comment inputs is hardly readable (except for this textarea) and comment meta data becomes unreadable too.

    I appreciate the bold approach, but as someone who likes to actually sit down and read on the web, this design is doing me an incredible disfavor.

  161. ian said on

    Really like the design – hats off to you – once again leading by example.

  162. Marcos El Malo said on

    tb;dr

    Actually, I read this with Instapaper, which fixed most of the problems.

    But seriously, you’re on the right track. Personally, I’d have preferred of you dialed it back a little, but that’s just me, reading on an iPad.

  163. G F Mueden said on

    Good job. Close, Very close and very good design, but no cigar. The object should be to please most, but also to make it adjustable for eyes that need it. The first step would be to enable word wrap to keep the enlarged lines on the screen. (It would help in this text entry box too.)
    Lots of us have trouble with long lines. I counted yours and got to fifty not halfway accross the screen. Enabling word wrap would let us bring the margins in and have a comfortable line length.
    ===gm===

  164. Michael Mancuso said on

    Thrilled to see you articulate this point. We’ve taken this very approach in our site’s relaunch (horngroup.com) and incorporated responsive design as well. Our corporate clients may be slower to come around, that remains to be seen, but it is undeniable that design for the web is always evolving and being led by mobile devices and their effect on the transmutable nature of the online experience.

  165. Olivier Scherler said on

    Mike Gossmann is right: it needs MARGINS in order to be readable on a landscape tablet.

  166. Tobias said on

    Nice idea, but it’s too big. Same issue as over-wide paragraphs, I have to move my eyes rapidly left and right to see everything, rather than just scanning down the page. It’s fine if I zoom the whole page out, or step back a metre, and I’m sure it would be fine on a mobile device. With a typical desktop setup, the horizontal arc is simply too large for comfortable reading.

  167. eszpee said on

    Beautiful.

    Readable, even on a screen.

    The only thing I don’t like is that I cannot get an overview of how long the article is going to be, what’s the structure of the text, etc.

  168. Rich Senior said on

    Does my text look big in this? You bet your sweet ass it does! Gloriously large and round. Fonts have never looked better. This works on iOS and on the desktop beautifully. Less is so much more. I think it shows that we still have much to play with using the most rudimentary of tools. Those fonts we have all got so used to and maybe a little tired of at 12/14px look very different at the movies. Wonderful.

  169. ville vartiainen said on

    F-in A Zeldman, you rule! You probably didn’t even need to respond to the doubters, but it accelerates a good trend in interactive design and that can’t be a bad thing. Totally done the same on my site this morning.

  170. Editor’s desk: Do I believe?, meet Gary, 3D movies, features, and more! | The Bob Clark said on

    [...] Web design manifesto by Jeffrey Zeldman. Finally, someone who proudly types even larger than Kevin Michaluk. [...]

  171. Clayton said on

    I think it looks great. Very pleasing on the eyes!

  172. Russ said on

    Finally, a web site I ca read without a magnifying glass

  173. Irene Knapp said on

    I love the big type; I’m a long-time fan of large font sizes. I don’t understand why everyone seems to accept hunching forward towards the monitor as the norm. But, could you increase the line-height multiple as well? Maybe not all the way to 1.5, but 1.4 or something?

  174. Alex Santos said on

    Easy on the Eyes. PS Aren’t fonts just beautiful!

  175. Kieryn said on

    I like the big font idea. Certainly better for mobile devices. However I’m not fond of the color scheme, but it could be because of my reading habit. I have the habit of rapidly highlighting phrases as I read … keeps my eyes focused on the position in the text (my eyes kind of have ADD, always jumping up and down through the text as I read). The bright orange kind of looks glaring as I do that… I would prefer a slightly more subtle highlight.

  176. Lopar said on

    THANK YOU for this big fonts. I’m tired watching small ones all over internet. :D :D :D

  177. Steve Hermes said on

    Being a graybeard, big type is appreciated, saves me the trouble of zooming

  178. Vito Wolf said on

    Great article. I’m personally a fan of big type as well as georgia. I love the way they site looks, and find it easy to read. I always zoom on on other sites to be able to read more comfortable. As one commenter perviously mentioned there is no way of know how long the post is, i think this may be fixed by simply making the cursor larger so that it is relevant to the page size.

  179. Brian Rowdy said on

    I have an addiction to content and these days the reading has gotten far out of proportion to doing. Recognizing the addiction is a step right? Anyway, point being . . . Uh, I am sure I had one right here. Where’d it go. OH, this is one of the few sites I regularly visit in person to read. Seeing it in my feed just tells me it’s time to stop in and read something new. There are no annoying design distractions. The color selection is soothing, inviting and the purpose is to let me, a mere mortal, consume the GOOD content. I Love that I can lean back in my chair and read this site instead of burying my face in a 23 ” monitor once again forced to work on my neck haunch in the name of expediency (my addiction takes precedent over future physiology and proper ergonomics). Still, it would be nice to be surprised and see you fly your freak flag on your own site, once in a while. If you say (think) your are, then I’ll know we are both getting old.

  180. Vaughn said on

    Absolutely brilliant.

    My eyes (which frequently feel like they are bleeding from reading tiny text all over the web all day long) are thanking you tremendously. I hope that more people will go bigger, and if they don’t they should go home.

    No squinting or needing to zoom equals a happy me. In fact, if you were going to exagerate the size I would make it a little larger still; I think that the size you’ve used here is perfect for modern high resolution monitors and mobile devices alike.

  181. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Irene wrote:

    But, could you increase the line-height multiple as well? Maybe not all the way to 1.5, but 1.4 or something?

    The line-height is 1.6.

  182. Ceteco said on

    My whole body is In love with it.

  183. Brent said on

    I think the larger font is something more and more websites should be doing. I did it to my blog when I created it. I was tired of seeing these blogs and other text-centric sites where the font was impossibly small or the text jammed together in a small space. These people seem to forget that their text is their content, and they should be making it a simple as possible to access and not hindering their readers.

  184. Anonymole said on

    I have a bookmarklet that kills all styles on any site (also have bookmarklets that kill all flash and shrink all images too).

    I use this style killer script to strip everything but the text of a site, which I then CTRL+MouseWheel to grow in size until it’s the size you’ve presented on your site. Like minds and all that.

    Here’s the script for the curious:
    javascript:var kcss=function(){ s=document.styleSheets; for(var i=0; i<s.length;i++)s[i].disabled=true};kcss();

  185. Steve Avery said on

    Personally, I think it’s perfect. Period.

  186. Diego said on

    I just love the big font.
    It made me think about what should be the real focus.
    Thanks.

  187. Chris Lee said on

    I definitely disagree with most of your post…but, heck, carry on. You’re right: It is your site. Enjoy. But I’m going elsewhere now.

    The large type and non-usable layout still gives me a headache.

  188. kamagra sklep said on

    Hey this is a good looking blog, is wordpress? Forgive me for the foolish question but if so, what theme is? Thanks!

  189. Barry Menard said on

    Great post. Well written, and personally I absolutely love minimal design, so this tugs at the old heart strings a little.

  190. Alex said on

    Large type is great and all, but I feel as though there is a breaking point with legibility on both ends of the spectrum.

    Too small and it’s difficult for people to read. To0 large and it’s difficult for the brain to quickly process the words while reading. You’re eye has to travel further to read all the characters of a word and turn that into something your brain understands.

    Did you actually research the value of choosing the size you did and how it would be interpreted in the user’s brain or did you just bump up the font-size to make a statement and get a rise out of people?

    I actually find this text a little difficult to process and I read slower. I feel as though it’s a little bit too big.

    Of course I don’t have science to prove this. But since you like using extreme examples, think of it this way…

    If I put a word in 50 pt font two feet from your face and the same word at 16pt, which one do you think the human brain is going to process into a word first?

  191. Karl said on

    Was a pleasure to read – even without my glasses!

  192. Alan Gresham said on

    Before I even began reading I zoomed the page back to 75%.
    So perhaps the point was somewhat lost on me.
    Interestingly, I do still have a small crush on this page in all it’s sand/camel/beige beauty
    :)

  193. dzhusi said on

    Somebody got ooooowned

  194. Sarah said on

    Noticed the big type a week ago and thought, “Hmmm, I kinda like this!” A showcase of beautiful typography, a celebration of words, and perhaps a promotion for accessibility (none of us are getting younger). I wasn’t thrown off at all because I think we’re generally moving in that direction: 12px used to be the default and now we’re at at least 14px (veering towards 16px).

  195. Moon Doogas said on

    Hey, thanks for this – I’m writing simply to see my type this big on a web page as default: you see, my eyes are tired and getting old and wearing glasses doesn’t fit the range of screen to window wall, to outside and then small detail so I welcome this large type ANY DAY, so thanks Mr Zee, you’ve opened a new world of seeing for hopefully a new generation of thinking

  196. Mark Tomlinson said on

    Finally someone gets it: if you are going to put content up to be read then make it readable, simple.
    The size is nice but the colour layout are more effective even at 75% of this size the page would still be very readable.

  197. Mike Adkins said on

    Hey look! My comments are in big font!!

  198. Tanya said on

    Isn’t it about trying new things? We wouldn’t be “designing” how we do today if it wasn’t for someone willing to try something new.

  199. Doug M said on

    Doesn’t this waste paper….smirk.
    I am old enough to enjoy your idea. There is life outside the box.

  200. Scott said on

    I love the layout. However, scrolling through all the comments took a couple dozen two-finger swipes. :)

  201. Al Stevens said on

    I think to there is often an assumption that smaller devices need larger type, however when you look at the science the opposite is true. Due to the average reading distance between a desktop and the user being more than that of things held in ones hand (say, tablet, phone or even magazine) it becomes apparent that the device which needs the largest font size is the desktop computer.

    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/10/07/16-pixels-body-copy-anything-less-costly-mistake/

    So a responsive site might actually reduce the font size for mobile devices.

  202. Troy Templeman said on

    A clever response to the criticism. It’s actually a refreshing alternative to responsive web design. You found a comfortable middle ground for all devices with a design that doesn’t need to respond (or at least very little). Looking forward to your talk this Friday at Go Beyond Pixels.

  203. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    So a responsive site might actually reduce the font size for mobile devices.

    Precisely as this design does. ;)

  204. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Troy Templeman said:

    Looking forward to your talk this Friday at Go Beyond Pixels.

    Me, too. Come say hi!

  205. Tiago Machado said on

    Love your point. I have been thinking about that, and about the standard stylesheet of web browsers, they look and act the same since the 90’s.

    Still, the type looks a bit bigger than it should (ain’t so confortable to read on a desktop), but you’re making a statement here and it’s your site. Your house, your rules.

  206. Tiago Machado said on

    PS: Desktop = Macbook Pro 13″

  207. Hau said on

    I just wanted to say that I am viewing this on an Android mobile phone, and that I don’t have to zoom in to read the post, and to thank you for that. Clearly, it’s proven its point :)

  208. Alejandro Caduceus said on

    I dig the style because I can read it on many (proly all) screen sizes. Simple = better … just ask the ancients :)

  209. C Bedard said on

    I usually CMD+ on most web sites. Now I get to CMD -, that’s great!!!

  210. David Humes said on

    I am a huge fan of yours Jeffery, and I appreciate the declaration to stand behind what you feel is right. Thank you.

  211. Neal G said on

    I just used the Firefox addon Stylish to lower the size of your font on the site. Problem solved.
    @namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);
    @-moz-document domain(“www.zeldman.com”) {
    * { font-size: 15px !important; font-family: arial !important; }
    }

  212. Ingrid said on

    I am forever zooming websites (me=blind) and I hate everything that tries to destract me (why put related links between paragraphs!?!?!?!?!). In summary, this is awesome.

  213. Jeff said on

    C’mon, Jeffrey. Out with it. This is a move to bring senior citizens into the net fold. (And, while I’m only considered a “senior” by my teenage daughters, I can’t help but feel like I belong here with this big type.)

  214. Daniël van der Winden said on

    I’m a fan. Love type, love reading.

  215. Henry Hoffman said on

    I find this gives me fatigue. I think the font size is fine, but coupled with the narrow layout I find my line of vision darting around too much.

  216. Dave P said on

    Now isn’t this easy to read!

    Very pleasant change. Thanks

  217. Typesetting Paragraphs on Web Pages « Devnotes said on

    [...] paragraphs is not limited to the printed page. While reading the comments posted on Zeldman’s Web Design Manifesto 2012 (which, by the way, is a must-read for everyone in the industry), I noticed Clark is now pointing [...]

  218. andrew said on

    Good thing the browser lets me shrink the type to a size where I can get a page of text on the monitor.

  219. Emily Potts said on

    I wouldn’t have read the entire letter if the type weren’t in my face .. so it was quite effective. I wasn’t distracted by a bunch of well-intended graphics or ads. Well done.

  220. Robert said on

    Hitting the ` key to launch the page I’m viewing in Readability has become such a commonplace action, it genuinely didn’t occur to me that a layout like this could really work. But this is gorgeous!

    I also appreciate that the size of the text prevents me from carelessly scanning ahead, rather than focusing on the text as it comes.

  221. Chris Raymond said on

    Hooray! Signed, the eyes of a 55-year-old.

  222. Barry Bloye said on

    Yours is the only blog I read on my iPad in portrait mode. It feels absolutely spot-on.

  223. Robin Massart said on

    I love this new font-size. Sooooo easy to read and pleasant on the eye. Obviously won’t work in all cases, but for blogs? Perfect. Time for a redesign me thinks!

  224. Has adaptive design failed? Of course not | VentureBeat said on

    [...] this way because the emphasis is on content; on cutting away the cruft regardless of the platform. (Zeldman said it best.) And yes, of course there is a lot more work involved on some websites and applications. But to [...]

  225. SPARTALIS said on

    I read it all. Even when I lost a little interest, I kept reading.

    I KEPT READING SOMETHING ON THE INTERNET THAT I HAD SOMEWHAT LOST INTEREST IN.

    Says it all right there really.

    KABOOM!

  226. andy king said on

    wonderful, great big, readabubble text – I like…a lot

    but I think you are missing the point – the web will all be flash in a few years…

    hahahahahahaha :)

  227. Shane D said on

    Jeffrey,

    I applaud you for this. I have been trying for the last two years to convince my company that our website should be using a larger font for the benefit of our older users.

    The problem is our designers tend to be twenty-somethings with perfect eyesight. Our users, on the other hand, tend to be in the 40+ range – investors saving for their retirement.

    I’ll definitely send them this way to see that large fonts ≠ bad user experience.

    Thanks.

  228. Aranzamendez Design said on

    Well, this is actually a very simple design with a very clear content that visitors can read it clearly. But if you are going to optimize your site in major search engines, this website needs more improvement. Well, simple but really works for me as a designer.

  229. Mark Rabey said on

    Great idea, great concept…I may even try using a Serif font on my site! Something I’ve always understood to be “wrong” – You have opened my mind and eyes to new ideas….Now I need to play with my site (again)…

    THANK YOU!

  230. Signal to Noise Ratio | Inside the Hat said on

    [...] designers are fighting back. Web designer and prolific blogger Jeffrey Zeldman  earlier this month published a revelatory blog post that captured my imagination. In it, he makes his case for purity of type, white space and yes, [...]

  231. Katherine said on

    Legend! I really enjoyed reading this post. Keep it coming!

  232. Dug said on

    Hey, I love it:-)

    I say bring back font-size:medium;

    Best,
    Dug

  233. JM Knowles said on

    I agree will all – congrats on your bold move. Your ability to get us all to rethink everything is always appreciated. In my opinion this is a great design for your dedicated readers who follow everything you write. I wish I had the time to be one of those readers but I the truth is I only come by every few weeks and usually find at least a few things here of incredible value. Now though the site (for me) is an impenetrable assemblage of content of which I must tediously scroll through to find things that I want to read. It is no longer scannable. I think those who read every post are going to be well served by the redesign but for those like me (and believe it or not the few people out there left who haven’t been here before and are coming to your site for the first time) this is no longer as attractive a destination as it use to be and is no longer an alternative to the rss reader experience. I just don’t think this is “there” yet.

  234. Grayed out « Charles Engelke’s Blog said on

    [...] Why is light gray text becoming so popular on the web? More and more web pages look like copies from a machine that has run out of toner. If you want your text to be read, make it readable. The best web designers put readability ahead of appearance. [...]

  235. Douglas Gottlieb said on

    Best. Site. Design. Ever.

    I wish the entire web looked like this.

    F* everyone else.

    You go big Z!

  236. WD Milner said on

    Amazing, and so very readable!

    I came across your redesign while in the process of doing a redesign of my own and it struck a chord. I had shown my preliminary design to a friend and their comment was “the type is too big”. Well, my font size, while slightly larger than average, is nothing compared to this. Kudo’s for daring to not follow the crowd.

  237. Stuart Rutter said on

    I find the site is excellent to read from a content and user perspective. I also don’t think that the large font sounds like you are SHOUTING. You must have planned the font sizes with smart phones in mind as the site looks fantastic on an iPhone. After all big is beautiful. Thanks….

  238. Paul Kent said on

    I think it’s great, and perfectly designed for reading on a tablet or mobile device. I just basically want to read the stuff and not be bogged down by ads and pointless screen furniture, particularly on a small screen. I also agree that using a personal site or blog as a sandbox or way of experimenting with web design is only to be encouraged.

  239. Hans Ulrich Rubi said on

    There are many good reasons for big type and they were already stated in the article “The 100% Easy-2-Read Standard” by Oliver Reichenstein of Information Architects in 2006:
    http://informationarchitects.net/blog/100e2r/
    It certainly changed my mind of how to use type in websites.

  240. Jane Hooper said on

    I love the big type, it means I can read it nice and easily! I do get a bit frustrated when I see websites, albeit very nicely designed websites, with small type, grrrr first thing I do is reach for the enlarge text button.

  241. Jean Goodwyn said on

    Usability feedback from a single user: on both my iPhone and my iPad, the copy is gloriously readable. No pinching and pushing and fussing, no having to hold my iPad up to my face like some ultra chic viewmaster.

    On my 24-inch, 1920 x 1200 iMac, it’s too large to be comfortable to read. I actually have to lean back in my chair, which doesn’t feel any better than having to lean forward for tiny type.

    Reading comments, yes – two applications of command-minus make it just right… But as advice, that sounds suspiciously like the advice of tiny-type types, telling me to use browser commands to make it larger to make it readable. I’ve always felt like it’s the designer’s job to make it readable, not the reader’s.

    That said, I love the experiment – and the motivation. I’ve always felt like the frequent client instruction to “make the logo bigger and the type smaller” revealed a lack of connection to and confidence in their content – something deliciously absent from what you’re exploring here.

  242. Janean Vear said on

    I just want to mention I am just all new to blogging and site-building and actually loved your blog. Likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You absolutely have exceptional writings. Regards for sharing your web site.

  243. James Petts said on

    S**t hot, Jeff (s’a compliment, doncha know)

    Agreed on the Franklin – lot better when I have to clean the ink off with a rag soaked in paraffin (sorry, kerosine) ({[ love these brackets, too]})

    Looks stunning on my old portrait 1600 x 1200 white slate

    cheers

    James Petts

    PS Cheeky question, but what hoops would an old non-techie, like me, have to do to ‘sort’ a we bite as classy as this? (scrape/grovel/doff cap, etc)

  244. LTorres said on

    Big Serifs Type with great contrast is the reason I (and many others) love Kindle. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big text, if it’s easy on the eyes you will surelly finish the reading.

  245. Gregory Lau said on

    This is amazing! Thank you.

  246. Syd Salmon said on

    Well done sir! I didn’t feel the itch to fire off Evernote Clearly — not even once.

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