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Ben's User Experience

I'm just a geek in glasses. I have an unremarkable level of short-sightedness that's not really considered a disability — yet I regularly have problems with small, low-contrast text and have to increase its display to read it comfortably. I use user stylesheets to increase text size, line height, and contrast in specific websites. As a developer, this isn't hard for me, but I've no idea how the average user would do it.

On this page:

My vision

I am short sighted and wear glasses full time. I must wear them to legally drive. My vision is not age- or injury-related (I'm in my early 30s), and I'm not notably/unusually short sighted. I'm just a geek in glasses.

You wouldn't consider me to have a disability, yet I really benefit from being able to customize text to make it more readable.

For example, I find small grey text particularly difficult to read in any circumstances.

Web & user stylesheets

I find many websites have text that is just far too small to read comfortably. Hitting zoom 2-3 times is a regular occurrence. I sometimes have to turn off a site's colours as well, which I do with one click using Opera's "User Mode".

For several websites I use frequently, I have user stylesheets. For example:

I'm a developer so user stylesheets aren't hard for me. I've no idea how the average user would get a user stylesheet made for them though!

Work tools

I've hacked a lot of work tools to make them more readable/usable; e.g., making an ancient version of JIRA's view-issue page easier to read quickly. (They've revamped the UI since then.)

eBook Reader

I use a Kindle to read books; from memory I have the Kindle set one size higher than the default. I've tried an iPad and the backlit screen is really hard to look at for long.

System settings

In the past I have run base OS fonts at a higher size; but this tends to interfere with my job as a web developer so I mostly use user stylesheets now.

Curiously iPads and phones rarely causes problems as they have very zoom-centric UI. That is, they cater well for zooming in to text. Although the backlit screen of the iPad is really hard to look at for reading long documents.

I have more problems balancing the resolution of smaller laptops and desktops with very large monitors; most common configurations result in quite small text.


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