No to Text Resize Widgets

Michael Gifford (@mgifford) recently wrote a tweet on text-resizing widgets. It said:

Is it time to scrap text resize widgets and teach people how to resize text http://bit.ly/94jNkv

I totally agree. Say no to text resize widgets. To enlarge text for users, the browser should be used (many reasons below). See this video from OpenConcept on how to text-resize in your browser.

Gifford’s tweet references an article on the subject from almost 3 years ago, Scrap text resize widgets and teach people how to resize text from 456 Berea St. This site had also blogged about the topic a while back in Don’t Use Text Resizing Widgets.

Keep in mind is the issue of misinformation. For example, the very recent article A quick Web Accessibility Checklist actually encourages the use of text resize widgets, or in their words a “Font re-size option”.

Gifford’s tweet sparked many responses with many very good points, which all support why not to implement text-resizing tools on a website. I’ve summarized some reasons from very respectable professionals including @v, @alxp, @johnfoliot, and @ppatel. (Bonus! See slide 12 of Web Accessibility Gone Wild by WebAIM which also discourages the use.)

  • Implementers need to stop setting font to 80% (or lower!) in the default CSS.
  • Text resize widgets only add another layer of complexity on top.
  • Text resize widgets don’t resize text in images.
  • Text resize widgets are site-specific. There’s no standard; each site implements differently.
  • Text resize widgets causes confusion, clutters up the interface.
  • Text resizing is the responsibility of browser; browsers should do this natively. Browsers need a better way to expose this functionality to the user.
  • Users who regularly need larger text have figured this out already on all the sites that lack such a widget.
  • Interface design is not graphic design. Tyrannical control over font size & colors in UI is doing a huge disservice to users.
  • Text resize widgets make the author feel like they are doing good, but only solve problems created by the designer/developer in first place.
  • Not many users I’ve spoken to (@ppatel) use the widgets.

3 comments

  1. LearnAccessibility

    Hello there,

    We truly appreciate your view about “No to Text Resize Widgets” and we in fact, believe that there is no need to provide the same since the browsers, do provide the same functionality already. But, only reason, we would feel, these options may be good to include on the web page is not many users particular, who are not very computer savvy or senior citizens or who are new to the computer world are aware of existing features of the browser and the OS. and prividing text re-size or contrast options on the top would be handy for such people.

    Of course, this may be considered based on the objective of the site and target audience of the site. Thoughts are welcome.

    Web Admin, LearnAccessibility
    info@learnaccessibility.org

  2. Dennis at Web Axe

    Well said, thank you for your input. One of the bullets says “Browsers need a better way to expose this functionality to the user”, which you can also extend to the OS as you point out.

  3. jean-jacques

    I think also that text resize widgets are wrong. The statmenz that such widgets don’t resize image is not OK. If the images have dimensions expressed in em or px the image will also be resized
    &alt;img src=”img.jpg” width=”160″ style=”width:10em; alt=”…” />
    do this

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