Have you noticed how the Op-Ed section of the New York Times has a lot more spacing than some of the other sections like Technology? The experimentation is on as to whether larger type spaced generously keeps more people on the page. The other recent innovation was ‘The Slider‘ at the New York Times. Every time you scroll down to the end of the article, the headline of another slides in, prompting you to click. It’s a nice way to attract your attention and keep you clicking on to the next page and the next article in the section. The New Yorker uniformly uses larger type for all its articles compared to the time when it offered three type size options.
These are clear signs that web design is aligning itself to the age of its audiences rather than the one size fits all that applied earlier. Column sizes have shrunk but the space between lines has increased. Both help to make reading a lot easier. Especially on a backlit screen. For all the advances, when we read off a monitor, it’s reading by staring into the light instead of from it. Even books now have editions aimed at older readers where the type is bigger, and line spacing is generous.
The tightly packed text is a lot more difficult to navigate. Take a look at this article from ‘The Atlantic‘. Now click on to a site called ‘Readability‘ that displays the page stripped of all the other articles and the advertising. Use Readability and see how the experience is much better.