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Self-service web catering for the myopic hoi polloi

I think this column has been vindicated in its campaign in favour of changeable font sizes on websites. Just to remind you: you can hit View on the top bar of Explorer, hit Text Size and then select one of the five options - and all the text changes size accordingly. Sometimes.

The target of our rancour has been web designers who fail to implement this feature. The reasons they don't are to do with laziness, sometimes ignorance (no kidding) of the feature's existence, and a failure to grasp the fact that print graphics and web graphics are seriously different animals.

Apparently, quite a lot of self-regarding designers have difficulty with the idea that web pages should be changeable by hoi polloi users.

All that is set to change next year with the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Some of its sections are attracting attention on the grounds of loopy, over-political correctness. But what it does mean is that websites will have to be readable by the poorly sighted, like most people over 45.

I discovered this during a long look at the Vitsoe site at www. vitsoe. com.

Vitsoe flogs that classic Dieter Rams 606 shelving system. Apart from being a model of clarity and simplicity, the site has a feature I can't remember ever having seen before. It has a 'Select typesize' button on every page. This is nothing to do with the above Explorer Text Size feature - it is built into the site itself.

I checked with the Vitsoe bloke, Mark Adams. He said: 'We decided to control the process ourselves so that we could decide what each page was going to look like.' So every page had been designed for the extreme conditions of text. As Adams says: 'Try switching the site to Large, compare it with the same page in Normal and you will see that the layout is often different. Not obvious, but important.'

That is what I think we mean by website design.

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