FONT FACE

Choosing the right font face can be a tricky process for website designers. The style and purpose of a given page can sometimes dictate the type of font designers choose. For example: A children's website is more likely to have a goofy-looking font in order to make the site visually more appealing to the intended audience. A designer for an online newspaper may try for a Times New Roman font or something similar in order to convey a style associated with print newspapers. Sites displaying digitized historical documents and sources may have a script font in order to conform with writing style of the time period from which the documents come.

In order to design websites that are accessible to elderly users, Kurniawan and Zaphiris (2005) suggest that designers use sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica or Arial. Making Your Website Senior Friendly (2002) adds Univers and News Gothic to that list. From experience, Verdana also works for this purpose. Designers should also specify "sans-serif" in their CSS code as a last resort to ensure that browsers will default to this family of fonts if necessary. Sans-serif fonts do not have the decorative end pieces that serif fonts contain, thus these fonts are easier to read when the font size has been set below 12pt because the lack of decoration increases the amount of white space around each letter.

screen shot of the n y times  dot com

The New York Times online articles tend to be displayed in Times New Roman font. Take a look at the screen shot to the left and determine whether the text decorations have an impact on legibility. Admittedly, this screen shot has blurred the letters slightly. This website does allow the user to override the font size for some of the elements, but the font face cannot be easily changed. Try copying and pasting an article from this website into an MSWord document. Then change the font face to Helvetica or to Arial. See if you notice an increase in the legiblity of the article with the font change.