Monday, July 7, 2014

A Wee Experiment


Image source Wikicommons
I recently came across a blog article that laid out a pretty convincing case for changing the way a typical blog is written.

The writer made three profound insights into typography and readability that immediately caught my attention.

And so, I thought I would try a wee experiment, and ask for reader input on the results.

The three points, and why they made sense:

  1. The real problem behind "reading fatigue" for online documents, including blogs, is NOT the usual assumed culprit of "projected light", but rather font sizes that are too small and difficult to read.
    Part of the popularity of Kindle and other such devices is that the text is larger and easier to read than the average website. Most people aren't even aware of this; it just feels easier to read than a blog or website. Larger type on a blog mimics that same easy-reading effect.
  2. The easiest fonts for reading are "serif" fonts, and most blogs and websites use sans-serif -- which is unproductive if you want people to keep reading.
    Sans-serif fonts (like Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana) are great for titles, sub-headings, etc., but are hard to follow for blocks of text. I've known for years that the font called "Georgia" was specifically designed for online readability, so I'm experimenting with it as my blogging font. And why not? -- that is what it was designed for!
  3. Just like books, there is an optimum number of words-per-line that our brains find comfortable in processing. Once you have too many words-per-line, readers find it (unconsciously) difficult to read and move on.
    Using a larger font size brings a typical blog -- like this one -- to more closely match the words-per-line of most books. In theory, this should increase the readability, and allow whatever message the writer is trying to convey, to be "heard".
So, let's try a little experiment. Following this paragraph is the opening paragraph from my previous blog post, first at the default font and size, and then repeated but using Georgia at a larger font size. You tell me (seriously, I'd like some input and feedback on this!) which is easier to read:




Default:

Years ago, a new term was introduced into church jargon: the Loyal Liar. It was first used in a fictional story about an older liberal professor mentoring a young Pentecostal pastor into giving up his faith, yet continue to be a pastor. To be a Loyal Liar was the cold & calculated decision to pretend that you still believed in Christianity, preach sermons you didn't believe, pray prayers to the ceiling, and collect your pay from the unsuspecting church. (That's cold, dude...)

New:

Years ago, a new term was introduced into church jargon: the Loyal Liar. It was first used in a fictional story about an older liberal professor mentoring a young Pentecostal pastor into giving up his faith, yet continue to be a pastor. To be a Loyal Liar was the cold & calculated decision to pretend that you still believed in Christianity, preach sermons you didn't believe, pray prayers to the ceiling, and collect your pay from the unsuspecting church. (That's cold, dude...)



Well, what say you? How did this wee experiment play out?

Which is easier to read?

Should I go with the new approach (Georgia & larger) or was the old one just fine?

3 comments:

  1. the new one is better! -- Sam Gutierrez

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  2. Thanks for the input! I've actually now gone back and updated EVERY POST on this blog to reflect the results of the "wee experiment", and while it took a lot of of time, I'm very pleased with the results! :)

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