[Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Michel Vuijlsteke wikipedia at zog.org
Sat Jul 14 22:42:01 UTC 2012

On 14 July 2012 23:48, David Richfield <davidrichfield at gmail.com> wrote:

> I really really don't get all this talk about Wikipedia being ugly.
> To me it's a great example of how text really can move from markup to
> a well-laid-out website with a coherent design philosophy. Wikipedia
> generates results which adapt to window size very gracefully without
> taking the cop-out of forcing all the content to run down the center
> of the page in a fixed size.

Okay, "ugly" was a poor choice of words. Ugly is subjective.

Bad typography and poor layout objectively hinders readers. It slows
reading speed and reduces comprehension -- not in some vague "well yeah,
that's your word against mine" way, but in an objectively scientifically
measurable way.

What Wikipedia does is not really "adapting gracefully". It's adding a
padding of 1.5em to the left and right of a block of text that spans the
entire width of any available window (minus the 11em of the left panel).

There's a limit to the amount of text you can put on a line before it
becomes hard to read.

What you're calling a "cop-out" is not a cop-out at all. The ads, well,
they need to be there for The Atlantic to be able to pay the bills, but
increasing the number of characters per line in the text column would *not*
make the better. To the contrary: the amount of words per line is about
just right. Here, take the test yourself.

This is the article in Wikipedia layout: http://imgur.com/xinFW
This is the article as seen on The Atlantic: http://imgur.com/WH1WT
And this is the article run through Evernote Clearly: http://imgur.com/sH3HJ

Anyone can see, I hope, that the Clearly (http://evernote.com/clearly/)
version is by far the easiest and most comfortable to read. Bigger font. *
Different* font. Contrast less harsh. Fewer characters per line. Margins.
Leading. Kerning.

It's almost funny there's no article about macrotypography on Wikipedia. :)


More information about the Wikimedia-l mailing list