A Plea to Graphic and Web Designers – Don’t use Light Grey for Small Text

Over the last 25 years I have consistently highlighted the need for graphic (and now web) designers to keep in mind who will be viewing their output.  The objective of most designs is usually to inform or sell.  To achieve that objective it follows that the written content of the work should be easily readable.

Having reached the half century marker, I have succumbed to the need to wear reading glasses.  Now I am able to experience directly what I have preached about over the years.  When faced with reading small text or light grey (to the point of being almost invisible), I simply bin or delete – even if the heading held some interest.

For designers I can make it this simple: if you can’t be bothered to make it readable, don’t expect me to struggle to read it.  To companies that have commissioned such artwork: you are wasting your money and effectiveness by failing to reach the full audience for your message.

Before designers roll up on my door with pitch forks and burning torches, I am not talking about normal sized fonts or reasonable tones of grey.  However, I write this blog having just received yet another e-mail that begins with a attention grabbing heading, a sensible bold grey for the opening paragraph and then simply fades away (as did my will to read) as it got to the text.  And my monitors are calibrated!

Common sense please, is all I ask.  Test your work with people of different ages – who may or may not need glasses.  See if it is comfortable to read and keep your eye on the objective of your client.  Remember, the better response your client’s campaign gets, the more likely you will have a happy customer.

Adrian Maguire, Partner, Ainsworth Maguire Public Relations

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