Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Your content is more important than artsyness

The plain old basic black on white is obviously much easier to read than black or red on blue.

I'll never understand why people who put great effort into their words make it so damn hard for people to read them. This happens with book covers, websites, magazine articles, advertising, graffiti -- any appearance of text.

People shouldn't have to squint, magnify, adjust, or solve a puzzle to read what you wrote.

If you have an unstoppable urge to use reverse type (light text on a dark background) limit it to a small block of type, such as a headline, but NEVER put an entire page in reverse.

The "opening crawl" from the Star Wars movies is readable in movie theaters and on big TVs -- but don't try it on a book cover or a web page.

Until I complained, the website of an art school was in reverse. Someone thought it was beautiful -- but it was hard to read.

A retail store in New York spent a lot of money on a 'contemporary' sign with navy-blue letters on a black background. Apparently few people could read the sign and the store closed.

If you must use a dark background, provide a lot of contrast. White on black or yellow on navy blue are OK. Red on purple sucks. A web page or book cover is NOT a Day-Glo concert poster.

And don't use a decorative typeface that looks like it was attacked by bacteria, or those annoying distorted letter sequences you have to retype to prove that you're a human being and not a robot in order to subscribe to a blog.

And choose a type size that's BIG enough to be read without a microscope. A book or a website has more space than the back of a credit card. I have several books that I just can't read. This is a frustrating and unnecessary waste of money.

Don't let your medium hide, harm or destroy your message.

Eschew obfuscation and espouse elucidation, in content AND in form.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, appearance matters greatly. That's why a 'clean' website is so much more readable. For the author, it's a fine dance between what needs be there (on the site or book cover) and what's fussy, add-and-distract maneuvering. Same with commercials...I have no idea why so many big-budget companies waste money on messages that no one associates with the company. So many times hubby and I ask: "What was that ad for?" "What were they selling?"