How to Test Readability
Legibility is the ease with which a user can not only read the text, but also understand it. In my experience as a UX designer, I saw it as the most overlooked part of user experience. Many times I participated in usability tests checking if it’s easy to find some information in an app or click on some elements on the website, but hardly ever in the ones focusing on checking if the choice of typography helps of disturbs users in consuming the content. That’s a pity, so in order to evangelize enhancing user experience of reading, I put together this simple how-to article after reading which you will be able to run your first legibility test today. In this tutorial I will focus on teaching you how to test legibility of your design with users mostly for digital use cases (f.ex. when you design an app or a website). However, if you create a design for print — this article is also useful for you. Should you need any specific tips for organizing a print design legibility test — just leave a comment below. This method is of great use for teams who create products whose users mainly interact with them not by clicking or tapping on the interface, but reading the text. To name a few examples these can be: blogslanding pagesdigital media sites (newspapers, magazines and such)customer care sites like FAQscustomer review pagesproduct pages with descriptions about a product such as:how something works: (how to use a product for instance a medicine in pharma; who is a product for in cosmetic business; how to put together a piece of furniture; product specification in electronics; how to change subscription in telco and subscription based services). As you can see, the usage of readability testing is quite vast and most of the digital products, websites and apps do have some of these kind in their content. From as early as the invention of writing people try to create those golden rules of text that make it the most readable. Throughout centuries scriptors and later on printmakers and finally web designers made efforts to establish the golden ratio of text size to line height and column length. Type designer has made tremendous efforts to optimize kerning to x-height and counter to create the most readable fonts. However, with contemporary number of device sizes and ratios there is no such thing as universal rule of typographic proportions that produce perfect readability. What in my practice turns out to be more practical (and faster) is to test how readable is the particular font that goes with branding of the particular brand you design for and appears on the given screen ratios. Apart from the choice of font, there are several factors that can improve or decrease readability. Among these are primarily: font weightfont sizeleading (something that is also called line height)line widthjustificationcolor of textcase usage (capitalized or lower-case letters) Of course, apart from the mentioned elements the content itself influences readability too. Unfortunately, as a designer I am not expert in that and in this article I am not diving into this area on purpose. The research of that has been a subject of scientific inquiry since circa 1880 and is rather a field of expertise of linguistic professionals than designers. Coming back to design, when you are about to test readability of your design, you probably have a couple of ideas or versions how text should be displayed. In order to run a test, prepare the same kind of text in the same layout, but in the versions that differ from…
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