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.

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