That Darned Content 2 : Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at | WebReference

That Darned Content 2 : Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at

That Darned Content 2: Thanks for the Mail


Whoa! I guess "That Darned Content" hit a chord with many of you. I have had a ton of mail on this topic, and it seems that I hit into an area that many of you struggle with. In addition to the many kind words, many of you also said, "And while you are on this topic, how about ..." I can't say I really knew I was hitting such a vacant spot (though I would love to claim that level of intuitiveness), but I am pretty quick to hop on a sequel when requested.

The most common request was in response to my hints at solutions for too much content. Many wrote and asked what to do when they could get no content. I chuckled at one letter that described a client just "wanting to be on the Web" and perplexed that content was required. Why are some things just so hard for some people to "get?"

Before I hop on that soapbox, which, with my heavily professional designer readership would be very much preaching to the choir anyway, I will move on. Lack of content is addressed later in this article.




Default size Times Roman is not the best font to use for screen use. I admit that freely.

Georgia is a better serif font for screen use, but see how rounded and large the letters are? More space between lines is required for easy reading.

Arial is a much better font for screen reading, however, it has the same problem as Georgia. In fact, even the number of characters in a line is a problem.

Verdana is a wonderfully legible font when there is sufficient white space in relation to the character shape.

(Verdana) When the <font size="2"> tag is applied to the above fonts, legibility problems go away.

(Arial) The font can also be resized if the visitor wished to see larger type if you are using the font tag sizing.

(Georgia) However, the font tag adds a great deal of code to the page, and cannot be used with CSS.


Why not just use a font tag?
Some are not happy with my choice to go with Times Roman as the font for this column. In the last article, I stated that the restrictions for creating this column were such that I had to use a default font, and my decision was that Times Roman, though not as good for character shape, was better than Arial or Verdana for line spacing. My judgement call, following much testing, was that the line spacing counted for more for this column.

So, some wondered, why not just use the font tag? I agree that the <font size="2"> tag would have made my pages look just as I wanted. It would leave the font adjustable, and be legible for everyone. However, there were reasons beyond my personal dislike for placing a constant tag through my pages.

First up, and this is a big one, the font tag would add a lot of code. as a whole promotes cleaner code and fast downloads. There is probably not a single bit of code that can bloat the size of a page faster than a font tag. Even without the protocol, Andy King, optimization guru, was my editor at the time. I would still be working trying to get Andy to approve a font tag in every page of every article (and would be no closer to approval, I'm sure).

Finally, is a very large operation, with many different tutorial areas. It is also part of a huge family through Jupitermedia Corp, our parent company, who also own and operate While all the experts are responsible for their own sites, there are often site-wide changes. Most times, the changes do not affect individual areas, but there are times when they do. I have no interest in changing anything in 500+ pages to bring my area into line after a global change. By using CSS, I know that will not happen. If changes are needed, I will change my linked CSS file, and the entire site is changed as soon as I upload.

So, using the font tag to control text size was not really an option. I did not want to go into history as a fan of Times Roman for Web use. I have never, and likely never will use it on a site I do for a client.




800 pixel wide resolution

1024 pixel wide resolution


The screen resolution standard
Another issue that brought some questions was the mistaken belief that I was promoting that designers only worry about 1024 pixel resolution. I did make a statement that I believed that the standard was reaching 1024. Many new computers are set for 1024 pixel display when they are sold. Many domestic computer users do not change defaults. However, my caution was that designers had best make sure their pages look great at that resolution, not that you ignore any resolutions below that level.

My standard, one that appears to be fairly common for professional designers, is to design at 800 pixel wide resolution (meaning no horizontal scroll), and make sure that the page will expand to 1024 pixels and still look good. It is only about a year since I abandoned 640 wide resolution as my base. It is just too hard to make a page, especially a liquid page, that looks good at 640 and 1024, not to mention even higher resolution monitors. The current number of people using 800 pixel wide display is still hovering around 50% of the total Web browsing population. I am definitely NOT recommending that you can ignore the 800 wide display. In fact, I believe it is poor design if a scroll is present for viewers with resolution set to 800 pixels.

The entry page, shown at the left, ( is a good example of a page that works well at both 800 and 1024 pixel wide display. The left and right side content help to keep the main content line length down, yet allows enough room on the narrower display to maintain legibility.




These were the two issues that concerned me. So, let's move on to what you can do for a site with no content.



Wendy Peck is a working Web designer and writer living in NW Ontario, Canada.


Next page

That Darned Content 2: Tutorial Index

Thanks for the Mail
Finding the Balance
Mining for Content
Look Outside for Content
Balancing with Color and Graphics

Front Page2345

Created by Wendy Peck,
Created: September 17, 2001
Revised: September 17, 2001