April 11, 2022
Book: 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People
This entire section was dedicated to how people read and a lot of the research and science behind it.
The insights that stuck out to me were: readability, x-height, reading on a screen, and line lengths.
You can control and tailor the reading level for your readers. However, you cannot control what they read. There are a lot of factors that contribute to what they read, it depends on their past experiences, their point of view during that time, and whatever instructions they were given right before reading.
A good resource for checking readability.
What is the x-height? That's the height of the lowercase x in a font family. That height varies between fonts. Larger x-heights make reading on a screen easier. Two suggested font families for great screen readability are Tahoma and Veranda, but there are many other great options
We touched on a good x-height font, but that's nothing if you don't also use a large point size. Reduce that eyestrain! Keep the contrast good and your content excellent and you are on your way to great readability.
I thought this section was interesting, the study by Mary Dyson, who found an optimal character line length of 100 characters. 100 characters onscreen for speed reading, but most people prefer a shorter length of 45 to 72 characters per line. So what's the deciding factor? How quickly your reader needs to read the information. 100 for quick as possible, and 45-72 for not as quick.
I personally hate when it's hard to read something on a screen. I like my text big and very little pinching, zooming, or eye-straining. If it's difficult, chances are I'm not going to follow through with whatever it is to read. (Which thinking about it is probably why I don't read very long on Instagram unless it's in the actual pictures and done well. Nothing irks me more than when I need two hands to awkwardly pinch and hold a spot just to read it. Silly? Maybe, but now I'm a mom to a lovely 16 month old, and being able to do tasks with one hand it critical. I even went as far as downsizing my phone, I now use (and love) an iPhone 12 mini. I don't think I'll ever go back to a big phone if I can help it.
Thanks for reading!