NoSquint allows site-specific text zoom

If you find yourself having to bump up text size a notch or two on some specific sites that you visit regularly, you will probably find the Firefox extension NoSquint very useful.

NoSquint remembers your text zoom level per site, so you will only need to adjust text size once for each site that uses text that is too small for your eyes. It also lets you set the default zoom level and adjust by how much text size is increased each time you hit Ctrl/Cmd - +. Too bad it doesn’t help with Flash sites…

In the comments on my post Scrap text resize widgets and teach people how to resize text some people argue that text resizing widgets are useful because people do not know how to resize text in their browser. Well, what if all browsers had the functionality NoSquint offers built in and clearly exposed to the user?

By the way, does anyone know if something like this is available for Safari? Firefox is a great browser for Web development, but I still prefer Safari when I stop coding and turn into a “normal” Web user. And that’s when I am most likely to run into sites with unreadably small text.

Posted on October 5, 2007 in Accessibility, Browsers, Usability

Comments

  1. October 5, 2007 by Daniel

    I use the “site alteration” feature in SafariStand, with this css: body {font-size:120%;}

  2. As far as I’m aware Firefox 3 remembers text size settings and keeps it across a domain. This is a good idea, but when you have many sites hosted on the same domain it could cause problems.

    I think most people who use Firefox probably know about resizing text. It would be nice if Internet Explorer had more obvious text size (not zoom) options.

  3. Besides, site-specific text zoom is built-in to upcoming Firefox 3.

  4. There goes my baseline grids :(

  5. And if anyone knows of something similar for Camino, that’d be great too.

    I’m always bumping up text sizes.

  6. Nice! Joe Clark talk in his presentation at this years @media in London (entitled Whe accessibility is not your problem), and one of the issues was that font resizing was not designers problem … Joe’s notes from presentation can be found here if somebody is interested …

  7. October 5, 2007 by Dan Schulz

    Interesting plugin, if a bit late for what it’s worth, given that Firefox 3 will have this functionality built in. Not like it matters much to me personally, since I use Opera as my primary browser.

  8. Great extension, Roger! Thanks for posting this.

  9. excelent ! i will use it tank’s ;-)

  10. A very nifty feature… most of which I’ve been using for years now in OmniWeb.

  11. I thought all non-IE had a ‘minimum font size’ option, and IE/win an ‘ignore font size in page’ option. Have used them for years.

    Always good with yet another option though.

  12. Sweet. Good find Roger.

  13. Very good plagin, thanks!

  14. Well, what if all browsers had the functionality NoSquint offers built in and clearly exposed to the user?

    Why should I have to fiddle with my settings for each and every new site I visit when browsers can be configured just once and provide a perfect text size by default? I thought computers were there to make our lives easier, not to make us jump through hoops for the sake of it.

    We don’t have to invent any new technology or install plugins, it’s all right there ready to work if only web designers would simply leave well enough alone.

    Even ignoring the readability factor, from a purely aesthetic point of view I think this site looks way nicer once you override the stupid 76% font size. What on earth compels you to reduce the font size like that? It doesn’t look nicer, it’s harder to read, it circumvents the settings of your readers’ browsers (which I think totally undermines your advocacy for teaching users to be in control of their own browser), and you yourself complain when somebody messes with your font size unnecessarily. Why do it?

  15. October 7, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Daniel: Ah, that should work. Thanks.

    Dave H, MT, Dan Schulz: I had no idea this would be built-in in Firefox 3, so thanks for that info.

    Jim:

    In principle I agree with you that we should leave base font size alone. However… if we didn’t reduce it, many people would complain that the text is too big because Web browsers for some peculiar reason use a much bigger default text size than most (all?) other applications do.

    Heck, some people think the text here is too big. I have to fight to keep text at a reasonably readable size in some projects (9px text is still all the rage among Flash and print designers trying to design websites), and there is absolutely no way I would be able to use a base font size of 100% on a client site. That’s why.

  16. … there is absolutely no way I would be able to use a base font size of 100% on a client site.

    True. What clients want, clients get. No problem.
    However, I have yet to see a client’s wish for small base font being able to bypass ‘minimum font size’ in any browser.

    In my preferred browsers it’s : “the smaller the base font set by author, the larger text-size I get at my end”. Roger, it is about time you reduced your base font from 76% to 62% - same as so many sites around, as that would make your site even easier to read.

    So the NoSquint solution will just be another way to solve what is already solved, and the only good thing I can say about it is that “it won’t hurt the end-user to have yet another option”.

  17. if we didn’t reduce it, many people would complain that the text is too big

    What happened to teaching people how to resize text? From your previous article:

    The reason I’m providing this info instead of text resizing widgets is that I hope it will teach people how to use their browser, thus enabling them to resize text on every site they come across while using the Web.

    I’m not the only one to think helping people understand how to use their browser is a better idea than replicating browser functionality.

    I agree with this sentiment.

    Web browsers for some peculiar reason use a much bigger default text size than most (all?) other applications do.

    I don’t see this. Fire up a mail client, word processor, text editor, and they all use roughly the same font size as typical browser defaults.

    Heck, some people think the text here is too big.

    If you used 100% font size and they configured their browser according to their tastes, they’d get the font size they like and I’d get the font size I like, and everybody else would get the font size they like, despite all of our preferences being different.

    9px text is still all the rage among Flash and print designers trying to design websites

    Yes, I know. Striving to do slightly better than the absolute worst in our profession is hardly a lofty goal.

    there is absolutely no way I would be able to use a base font size of 100% on a client site.

    I’ve had clients ask to reduce the font size occasionally. Once I explain the issues (I like the TV volume metaphor) they change their minds. One client insisted, so I put a master font size control in his admin section with a warning on it.

    Why wouldn’t you be able to use 100% on a client site?

  18. October 7, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    JIm:

    What happened to teaching people how to resize text?

    You mean that since I want to teach people how they can resize text in their browser I should leave the base font size at 100% and also tell them how to change the default font size if they find it too big?

    You do have a point.

    I don’t see this. Fire up a mail client, word processor, text editor, and they all use roughly the same font size as typical browser defaults.

    Hmm. I just double-checked this in both Mac OS X and Windows XP, and browser defaults definitely result in bigger text than in other applications.

    If you used 100% font size and they configured their browser according to their tastes, they’d get the font size they like and I’d get the font size I like, and everybody else would get the font size they like, despite all of our preferences being different.

    That would work if all sites used 100% font size and everybody set their preferred size in their browser. The problem is that since most sites do not use 100%, font size will differ from site to site. And if you adjust the default font size of your browser to, say, 12 pixels, many, many sites will have teeny-tiny text. Either way some people will need to increase or decrease font size per site. I don’t think it’s possible to please everybody here. We have to find a compromise.

    Why wouldn’t you be able to use 100% on a client site?

    Because most clients simply wouldn’t accept it, no matter how much I explain the issues.

    It would be nice to use 100% though, so I’m not ruling out the possibility of using it here. I’ll also look into other text sizing methods that don’t involve lowering the base font size.

  19. If only our eyes were what they used to be!

  20. 86% is my lucky number. great add-on!

  21. I have just downloaded and tried Firefox 3 beta. The methods of increasing text size in Firefox 2 (mouse wheel or keys) now control a new page zoom feature in Firefox 3. But I can’t find the plain old text zoom. This has disturbed me. They have to add it back as I really don’t want to enlarge images and make them distorted.

    However, as mentioned above Firefox 3 does remember the zoom level across domains.

    You can download it from here: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html

  22. (I am NoSquint’s author.)

    FF3’s per site pagezoom seems to be unconfigurably based on hostname. I suppose this is a sensible default, but doesn’t quite scratch my own itches.

    I’m in agreement with Richard, and am not a fan of pagezoom. (Image size rarely bothers me, it’s text I want bigger.) Fortunately, Firefox’s textzoom facilities remain in version 3, and NoSquint will continue to exist. (I will update the extension to support both textzoom and pagezoom.)

    Nevertheless, there’s no denying ff3’s pagezoom obviates the need for NoSquint for the majority of my current userbase. And I see this as progress. :)

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