Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Can readers read your blog? I decided to ask mine

Looks vs. Legibility

Everyone wants people to read their blog, but can they?

Lately I've been using Verdana small for all the text in my blogs posts. Previously, I was using Georgia normal size for what I called "real" posts, Verdana normal for any recipes in the "real" posts, and Verdana small (which I use for all photo captions) when I only wrote a few sentences about a farm photo. But lately I've been posting fewer farm photos with more accompanying text.

While I personally think Verdana small looks nice and is easy to read on my large desktop screen (which is the only place I ever see my blog), I started wondering if the type might actually be too small for some people to comfortably read. (Note: the space between the lines of type, or leading, is set automatically by blogger. I would prefer it to be slightly tighter on the Verdana small, but I think too loose is far better than too tight.)

After putting up a fairly long post and recipe yesterday, I went back and forth trying to decide if I should change the font and/or size or not. Finally I decided to see what my readers had to say.

I asked them to take part in a "five second survey," and so far 120 people have. Their responses have been interesting as well as helpful. I would have liked to have asked more questions (including their age, as several people have mentioned their "old eyes"--I think my readership is slightly older than I assumed), but I wanted to make this as quick and easy as possible to try to get more people to respond.

I did mention that any other comments and criticisms were welcome (noting that Anonymous comments were acceptable), and many people have taken the time to tell me extra things like where they're reading my blog (Google reader, laptop, etc.) and why they chose the answer they did.

Click here if you'd like to have a look at the survey and see how people are responding to what I think is an important question. And of course I'd love for you to take part if you haven't already!

This Post was written by Susan from FarmgirlFare.com


janet said...

Interesting, Susan. (Hello to you from neighboring Kansas, btw.) Being of the older-eye set, I'd have gone with B, too, and you can see that I've opted for biggish with lots of air on my blog, foodperson.com I find myself asking the reverse of your question, namely, "Is it too big? Does it spread things out too much?"

It looks about right on my monitor and laptop, but when I looked at it on another computer it seems HUGE. I hope you'll post your tally in the end.

DavidL said...

Elise at Simply Recipes has icons in the upper right corner, so readers can increase the size of the font themselves.

I don't know if that's an option in your blogging program but it's a great solution, allowing readers to customize as they wish.

Haalo said...

I'm not sure why this is an issue when you can change the text size on the fly with your browser - in safari under view, use make text smaller or make text bigger depending on the situation, you can do the same thing in firefox using text increase/decrease and even explorer gives you five options when it comes to text size.

David said...

On a Mac, you can just hold down the Apple key, then hit the 'plus' key (+) to make everything bigger.

Doing the same with the minus key (-) makes it smaller again.

I do that all the time without going into your browser preferences. Don't know if it works on a PC, though.
But it's a great shortcut!

farmgirl said...

Hi Janet,
This survey has really been an eye opener. I'm so, um, out of it in so many ways that I'm learning a lot--like the fact that almost everybody sees a different version of my blog on their screen!

Yours looks nice and is easy to read--at least on my computer. : ) As a graphic designer for many years, I had a real love of "white space," but this was back in the days of reading things on paper--so many things are different when "designing" for a computer screen. : )

Right now there are about 200 responses, and a quick tally this morning showed about 135 people choosing B (Verdana normal), and that didn't include the ones who said B would be their second choice, etc.

Hi David,
That Elise! Is there anything that amazing girl hasn't thought of? Those two icons are great--though I have to admit I'd never noticed them before, and I visit Simply Recipes a lot.

One of the reasons I hadn't worried about using Verdana small for so long was literally because I figured that if Elise was using it, then it must be okay!

Thanks, too, for telling me about blogpoll.com. Very cool.

Hi Haalo,
I guess it's an issue for people like me who are often clueless when it comes to even the "basic" features on computers, browsers, etc. I use IE and didn't know until this survey that there is that VIEW/TEXT SIZE option. Although I've been playing around with it, and it doesn't work on all sites.

Basically I'm trying to make things as easy and inviting as possible on my blog. And I also know that I have a lot of readers who aren't bloggers and are about as computer savvy (or less) than I am. We just don't know this stuff. I had at least one person tell me that they stopped reading quite a few interesting blogs because they simply couldn't read them.

I know some of you are shaking your heads in disbelief, but compare it to cooking or baking. There are basic tricks and rules that I bet many of us assume are common knowledge, but for somebody new to cooking, they're a complete mystery.

Anyway, it also seems to me that patience levels are VERY low when people are browsing online, and I'm sure there are quite a few people who think that having to go click on something a few times to change the size of type on a blog translates into "way too much trouble."

That said, if I do end up switching to a larger type than I've been using (and I probably will), I'll definitely remind the people who liked the smaller version that with a few clicks they can make the text smaller! : )

Hi David,
Thanks for the tips!