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Author Topic: A plea for legibility on LL  (Read 9194 times)
LoisWakeman
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« on: July 04, 2006, 06:31:50 AM »
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I have just read Alain Briot's new article  and found it thought provoking and interesting.

But by the time I got to the end of the (long, dense) page, my eyes felt decidedly strained and uncomfortable - in fact, I did think I might have to go away for 10 mins mid-article to rest them.

I know, Michael, you are a very busy man and I don’t wish to bother you with trivia - but in the interest of all those of us of advancing years, you might consider that the combination of white on black, a non-hinted typeface and close line spacing, makes for a very uncomfortable reading experience for more than a few short paras. Which is a shame, as the content is of such a high quality and deserves to be read.
 
It only requires a few tweaks to the stylesheet to improve things a bit (adding leading, using a different first choice typeface for instance) - or even better, offer a style switcher so I can choose dark on light (which is far more legible for the average person/screen) rather than the preferred scheme chosen, I imagine, to set off the photos. In the mean time, I either have to struggle with watery eyes, or switch to my own custom CSS to view this site: not an ideal situation in either case.

(Funnily enough, the default settings chosen for this board are pretty good!)

Of course this is your site and you must style it as you see fit - but just perhaps, you haven't heard before from someone with average middle-aged sight and without the luxury of a large screen to view the site. Now, where is the emoticon for that    ??
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michael
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2006, 07:22:41 AM »
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I've been looking for a competent graphics person to create a new Dreamweaver stylesheet for the site (as well as a new more functional Home page and What's New page, but without much success yet.

Anyone want to step forward?

Michael
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2006, 07:54:46 AM »
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I've been looking for a competent graphics person to create a new Dreamweaver stylesheet for the site (as well as a new more functional Home page and What's New page, but without much success yet.

Anyone want to step forward?

Michael
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69738\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
A stylesheet would be easy enough to do, so why not just invite submissions, Michael? Maybe offer a year's free sub to the journal for the winner?

John
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2006, 08:01:45 AM »
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A stylesheet would be easy enough to do, so why not just invite submissions, Michael? Maybe offer a year's free sub to the journal for the winner?
A very good idea if it's just a style sheet; but reorganising the home page/what's new needs more analysis and a maintenance strategy I guess.  I'd volunteer, but I have too much work in the day job just now.

To inspire would-be designers: have a look at the CSS Zen Garden, if you don't already know it. (And also shows how style switching works.)
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2006, 08:07:04 AM »
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A very good idea if it's just a style sheet; but reorganising the home page/what's new needs more analysis and a maintenance strategy I guess.  I'd volunteer, but I have too much work in the day job just now.

To inspire would-be designers: have a look at the CSS Zen Garden, if you don't already know it. (And also shows how style switching works.)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69741\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Oh yes, I was only suggesting for the stylesheet - and as an alternative prize, I'd be shooting for the Bangladesh book. It shouldn't take much more than an hour or so to come up with something better than now - eg light background, limited width (try reading the current site on a wide wide screen).

I agree about the home page and news. Adapting blogging software would seem the easiest way.

But one bite at a time - who's up for a competition?

John
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michael
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2006, 09:19:13 AM »
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I'd settle for a style sheet at the moment.

I'll announce the contest on What's New.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Michael
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drm
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2006, 03:25:26 PM »
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Michael,

With all due respect, it isn't quite so straightforward.  Some pages include inline CSS, and this will take precedence over the stylesheet. At a quick glance some typefaces are defined here. Also, quite a lot of the page is not styled - the design is hardwired in the HTML. The home page is much cleaner than "What's New", for example. A complete site redesign, even at this level, could be quite complex...  still, nobody's being forced to do it I guess.

And anybody who has the slightest idea what they're doing does not need to be pointed at the CSS file. They can just grab it :-)

I have far too much to do as well, but then again.... :-)

David
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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2006, 06:11:55 PM »
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With all due respect, it isn't quite so straightforward.  Some pages include inline CSS, and this will take precedence over the stylesheet. At a quick glance some typefaces are defined here. Also, quite a lot of the page is not styled - the design is hardwired in the HTML. The home page is much cleaner than "What's New", for example. A complete site redesign, even at this level, could be quite complex...  still, nobody's being forced to do it I guess.
Well, in those cases, I guess the contestant will have to contribute with suggestions on how to fix those files.

The note about DreamWeaver gives me a hint that perhaps a small source conversion script might do the job.

I'm willing to contribute* with a bit of such scripting in e.g. Perl, sed or something similar, to help the person who comes up with a decent CSS redesign. It probably won't solve every problem, though I hope it will save someone some work.

I don't think that person will be me, since I'm not quite up-to-date on CSS techniques, and don't even seem to be able to find the time to fix my own sites' CSS.  

Contributors who haven't done so already, will probably want to check out the CSS Zen Garden for ideas and code examples.


* This is where I'm supposed to say "and therefore I want 10% of the discs", but I'm already a happy LLVJ subscriber, having paid for the mentioned issues, and I'm not really interested in a second set. Besides, I think asking for percentages from someone doing the Real Work is really low.  
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Jan
michael
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« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2006, 09:05:05 PM »
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I'm well aware that there is much that's hard coded. What I'm looking for is someone with a sense of style to plant some seeds which can then grow into a fuller site redesign.

I've struck out trying to find perople locally who's work I like.

Michael
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dlashier
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2006, 04:35:02 AM »
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> I've struck out trying to find perople locally who's work I like.

I created nine of these twelve sites, as well as many others. But the problem is that I will only work in my CMS as the old way is far too labor intensive, as I'm sure you have discovered. Migrating a site the size of your's could be quite costly initially.

I don't know how hard it would be to remove the hardcoded font tags, but CSS will override most hard coded tags so it might be worth while to just try importing a style sheet.

- DL
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2006, 04:52:46 AM »
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I had a quick try before making my suggestion.  A perfect job's a bigger effort, but one can do enough to improve legibility by just slipping in a fresh CSS stylesheet. I'll send something in over the next week or so.

John
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photographist
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2006, 09:24:53 AM »
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Hey Michael…

Though the site’s style may be unchanging, as a reader, I’m not sure the word stale is appropriate.  It’s well laid out, and the information is easy to find and retrieve.   Is it sexy enough?  I don’t know, but I’m coming here to see your latest work and to glean a tad of the information that you enjoy sharing with us.  The one suggestion I’ve had over the last several years, you’ve started to do (add dates to your by line).  

I’ve been a reader of this site for quite some time now, and have recommended it to anyone with whom I speak of the art of photography.  The site’s content is superior and the tenor in which you and your “partners in crime” (Alain, Uwe, etc) write is excellent.   I’ve never hesitated to share your site with the digital virgin or the old-dog photographer with a hundred questions because the site is essentially a large brain trust and the information there in is readily retrievable.  These are important characteristics to those who are focused on photography, and are not nessacarily computer savy.

If I know you at all, I know that you’ll go slow and with caution, but I did want to add my kudos for the quality and state of the site as it sits today, as you’re looking forward to it’s tomorrow.

My ½ cents worth.
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Fred Ragland
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2006, 10:02:54 AM »
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I know that you’ll go slow and with caution, but I did want to add my kudos for the quality and state of the site as it sits today, as you’re looking forward to it’s tomorrow.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69826\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
My thoughts also.  This is a very good site!
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2006, 10:10:55 AM »
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Hey Michael…

Though the site’s style may be unchanging, as a reader, I’m not sure the word stale is appropriate.  It’s well laid out, and the information is easy to find and retrieve.   Is it sexy enough?  I don’t know, but I’m coming here to see your latest work and to glean a tad of the information that you enjoy sharing with us.  The one suggestion I’ve had over the last several years, you’ve started to do (add dates to your by line). 

I’ve been a reader of this site for quite some time now, and have recommended it to anyone with whom I speak of the art of photography.  The site’s content is superior and the tenor in which you and your “partners in crime” (Alain, Uwe, etc) write is excellent.   I’ve never hesitated to share your site with the digital virgin or the old-dog photographer with a hundred questions because the site is essentially a large brain trust and the information there in is readily retrievable.  These are important characteristics to those who are focused on photography, and are not nessacarily computer savy.

If I know you at all, I know that you’ll go slow and with caution, but I did want to add my kudos for the quality and state of the site as it sits today, as you’re looking forward to it’s tomorrow.

My ½ cents worth.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69826\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Michael,
I'll double photographist's ½ cents worth. The only changes that might be desirable are cosmetic ones, keeping it simple and clean. A change of bg/fg colors for the articles to improve legibility for those of us with aging eyes is the only "improvement" I would like to see. Perhaps black text on a light gray background, and slightly larger font, and "hinted", as someone already suggested.

That's my additional ½ cents worth.

Eric
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2006, 10:53:43 AM »
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but CSS will override most hard coded tags

Hmm: in theory, but it doesn't always work very well in practice IME: it requires support for 'inherit' which is pretty poor in IE6 for instance.

I'm 100% with you on the virtues of a CMS though. But the thought of putting the content here into one makes me blench!
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dlashier
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2006, 12:26:57 PM »
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Hmm: in theory, but it doesn't always work very well in practice IME: it requires support for 'inherit' which is pretty poor in IE6 for instance.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69837\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I agree, IE6 sucks, but supposedly IE7 is just around the corner and is going to be much more standards compliant. But in any case, this can often be worked around by applying more CSS

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I'm 100% with you on the virtues of a CMS though. But the thought of putting the content here into one makes me blench!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69837\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yup. I can migrate a cleanly coded site at about 10 pages/hour but for a large site this adds up quickly - and it's not fun work  

- DL
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jani
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2006, 12:42:05 PM »
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I'll double photographist's ½ cents worth. The only changes that might be desirable are cosmetic ones, keeping it simple and clean. A change of bg/fg colors for the articles to improve legibility for those of us with aging eyes is the only "improvement" I would like to see. Perhaps black text on a light gray background, and slightly larger font, and "hinted", as someone already suggested.
I agree with the contrast idea, but for the font adjustment, your browser should provide usability options for changing font size; there is nothing inherently wrong about the font sizes chosen for content, unless you have a screen with extreme density.

I know that IE sucks in this regard, but hopefully Microsoft will get their act together.

For Firefox, there are simple keyboard shortcuts for resizing the text, as well as a mouse scroll wheel shortcut (ctrl+wheel).

For Opera, there are simple keyboard shortcuts for resizing the entire page (including images), as well as a mouse scroll wheel shortcut (ctrl+wheel).

But the font sizes used in the menus could have been better (relative instead of fixed at "11px", whatever that's supposed to mean), and the same goes for the choice of a bold font-weight, which means legibility is lower than necesary.

Plus points to the current site for providing alternate fonts.  

I'd also look at selecting a different font in general; Arial is not the epitome of legibility, but it's available on almost any computer.

But this is really the job of whomever manages to cough up a decent style sheet scheme; I'm looking forward to seeing the new design when it gets there.

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I'm 100% with you on the virtues of a CMS though. But the thought of putting the content here into one makes me blench!
It also adds yet another thing you have to keep track of security updates for.

As for the virtues of a CMS; it really requires that you know what you're doing, if you want to use a CMS with success, but that makes it no different from other techniques in itself. The added requirement of some extra technical savvy for installation/configuration is also a consideration. But compared to using e.g. FrontPage or Publisher, well, I guess it's a dream come true for many people.
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Jan
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2006, 12:44:31 PM »
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I agree, IE6 sucks, but supposedly IE7 is just around the corner and is going to be much more standards compliant. But in any case, this can often be worked around by applying more CSS
Or one could start doing like other annoying sites -- you know the ones that say "you need at least Internet Explorer version umpty-foo to view this page, download here and come back later" -- and require Firefox/Opera/Safari.  
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Jan
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2006, 02:50:19 PM »
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Or one could start doing like other annoying sites -- you know the ones that say "you need at least Internet Explorer version umpty-foo to view this page, download here and come back later" -- and require Firefox/Opera/Safari. 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69846\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I vote for requiring Opera, Firefox, Safari, Netscape (remember Netscape? The current Netscape is essentially Firefox in a party dress), or any version higher than 11.3 of IE.  

You're right that those of us using Opera or any decent browser don't need larger fonts. I regularly use my + and - buttons in Opera.

Eric
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dlashier
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2006, 05:58:17 PM »
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IMO there's nothing wrong with the basic site design - it just needs a little more consistency. For instance, various elements use different font sizing metrics, which is what causes the problem with user resizing in IE, and to a lesser degree in FF.  Default font size is fine for me on articles, but indexes are small and hard to read. If I "up" them then articles are gigantic.

Something else which I think would help a lot is to replace the top "form" navigation with javascript mouseover pulldowns.  The main complication here is that you then need to provide clickthru alternatives for folks with javascript turned off and for search engine site walking.

- DL
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