Wired on the 2006 top ten mistakes in Web design

Reader Mau Sandoval sent me a link to The 2006 top ten mistakes in web design on Beyond the Beyond, a Wired blog, that notes the annual update of Jakob Nielsen’s Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design.

I find it very ironic that this Wired blog uses an extremely small, serif font for its body copy. I had to bump up the size two notches to be able to read it, which unfortunately made even more of the copy hide behind a Flash ad. It’s even more ironic when you consider this quote:

It’s interesting that web design has now settled down so much that they’re pretty much the same design mistakes repeated over and over. New browser windows busting open, teensy teensy horrid little type, wall-of-sound blasts of dot-pdf text, you’ll find all these annoyances keenly familiar, just like I do…

I think whoever decides which font size the Wired blogs use needs to read that.

Update: After taking a closer look at the code of the blog post I mentioned, it seems like the tiny text is caused by an editing mistake or a broken template (as Jeff Croft mentions in the comments here the tiny text is caused by a missing </span> tag and occurs on other posts as well), and is not intentional. Sorry for not taking a closer look before posting this. It’s still ironic though ;-).

Posted on January 10, 2007 in Accessibility, Quicklinks


  1. If you look at the entries form that blog, the type is larger. I suspect there’s some bug causing that type to be tiny, and it’s not the intended effect.

  2. Touche, that’s an excellent point. I read the same Wired article awhile back, but thanks to RSS I had never seen the actual blog. And not even a Text-Size widget like the rest of Wired has, it’s a shame.

  3. Well if that font size is not “teensy teensy” tiny type, I’d hate to see what is…

    What’s harmful about that is that here is this main stream supposedly tech savvy up to the latest standards site and yet they violate one of the simple rules, one even they seem not to like

  4. JK: Text-Size widgets really annoy me. Why not just notify users of their browser’s existing solution?

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  5. It seems they are using 10px for that post: .mood { font-family: times, serif; font-size: 10px; line-height: 22px; color: #; }

  6. I really think you guys are being unfair here. Clearly, this is a mistake. An accident. Unintentional.

    Instead of calling the guy out as a hypocrite in public, perhaps a kindly worded e-mail that you noticed this post has smaller text than the others in the same blog would be in order?

  7. Although Bruce Sterling, the writer of this post, probably can’t do anything with it, I dropped him a line anyways.

  8. I just looked at the code, and the problem is an accidentally unclosed span tag with a class attribute.

    I sure hope I never forget to close a span tag and accidentally make my whole post bold, or small, or red — oh wait, I’ve done that a hundred times, and I bet you all have to.

    Lighten up on the guy. Damn.

  9. January 10, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jeff: I didn’t look around at any other entries to check if they use a different text size. I just did, and some do use a slightly larger font. I also didn’t look at the code to find out why the text is so small. Now I have, and yeah, it does look like a mistake or a broken template. It’s still ironic though ;-).

  10. It’s still ironic though ;-)

    Can’t argue with that. :)

  11. January 10, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Achtentachtig: I just sent him an email as well.

  12. Still with a site like useit.com, looking like a site from the mid 90’s and not being well organized. I think Nielsens own site is granted #1 for the top ten website design mistakes of web professionals. Especially a usability specialist as himself.

  13. And sadly, comments aren’t allowed on that post…

    I will still send them my prescription glasses bill. =)

  14. Hmm. It is about time to show Jacob that there are some other browser not only IE. Rereading CSS spec about absolute/relative units may be of some help too. Will I ever get tired quoting this:

    Today, I want everyone in the room to take a vow never to say anything like that ever again. Do not tell people, or tell yourself, or even think that there’s something inherently wrong with pixel-based fonts. What there’s something inherently wrong with is Internet Explorer for Windows

    Don’t tell me about the users who have no choice. They do.

  15. January 11, 2007 by Frank Taillandier

    Dan : Soon we’ll get bored of webdesign and 90’s websites will be cool in the 2010’s because everybody will read feeds :)

  16. But note that the article was posted on December 27th, and it still has the “editing mistake”. That’s as bad as if they intended it.

  17. Well, I didn’t notice the tiny font, as I have my preference set to ‘minimum font size: 14px’ - and I never use IE for ordinary surfing. That ‘min-font’ setting is usually enough to break a whole series of web sites, so this one with a mistake in it wasn’t too bad.

  18. Wulf: For me it’s a real estate & convenience. The space it would take to walk people through menu directions for increasing text size (including multiple browsers) compared to the size of a text-size widget is significant, unless you use a popup.

    On top of that, there isn’t any convenience saved- visitors not willing/knowing to use a text-size widget are far less likely to follow menu directions or combined keypresses ([ctrl] + [scroll wheel], etc).

  19. A site with unreadable text and poor markup shouldn’t be commenting on web site mistakes…

  20. So you are saying the problem is careless coding? Oh yeah, that’s forgivable. /sarcasm

    Then again, Wired is just a community blog where people publish links to stories elsewhere, so it’s not fair to criticize Wired here. The person who posted the link made a mistake causing the small text size, but that person probably isn’t getting paid to contribute so you really can’t get too mad.

  21. Want to know something ironic??? I personally have to enlarge your font on your website and something equally funny is that you probably have to do the same for my website.

    I think most website font sizes are never right, the Internet is too flexible for that.

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