What’s The Ideal Font Size For My Website?

ideal font size for websiteThe great irony of the 21st century is that while literacy has become more important than ever before, thanks to the largely text-based nature of the Internet and devices that access it, the importance of good design elements like typeface and spacing have fallen by the wayside. That’s largely because of the more strict demands computers have when it comes to arranging elements on a screen, but also because more and more people are creating content on the web without bothering to engage in the basics of good, pleasing design.

As a result, there’s more information out there than ever to read, but a lot of it is a mess.

So, if you’re thinking of creating a website of your own, one of the things you should consider is the layout of your typography. What kind of font are you going to use for your website, and what is the right size?

The Flexible Answer

As with so many things in a world where people can customize their own experience, your answer is “It depends.” For example, you may be sitting at your own computer at your desk, looking at different websites, and the viewing experience you have indoors, with a desktop computer and a sizable screen is different even from the same viewing experience of the same website on a laptop, in a café, in the middle of the day. And this experience changes again if you’re viewing a website from a much smaller device like a phone or a tablet, which also has a different form factor and screen size/ratio from what you see on the other devices.

Consider Different Devices

This means that part of your quest to find the ideal font size rests not just on how you want your website to look, but also how you want it to look on different devices. A spare, clean, minimalist look is going to require a larger typeface for readability, but those requirements will change again if you want it to maintain that sense of spaciousness once it’s read on a phone. And you may have to sacrifice many of your design intentions in order to preserve readability on these smaller devices.

One general rule of thumb for a standard viewing experience on a default browser is 16 pixels for the size of text. While this is more of a “one size fits all” answer, it generally covers the basic requirements of readability for people that are reading text off a screen on a desktop or laptop.

What’s Right for Your Site?

And this is another important consideration when thinking about devices. While reading text in books and newspapers has generally been advised to stay at 12 points (not pixels, but that’s another discussion for another day), that is because books, newspapers and magazines are generally held much closer to your eyes than a desktop or laptop. These general computing devices actually sit further from your eyes than most of the objects that you use for reading. Even a phone or a tablet will generally be closer to the eye than these screens.

So when it comes time to design your website, think about what you want your website to look like, then try to imagine whether this same look can be consistently carried across different devices. Think about how you want the text to placed and flow on the screen, and see whether this translates as well. Your website is on the Internet, that’s true, but how people view the Internet changes based on the device they are using. The readability of your text must account for that.