Legibility and Readability

This section of our design system documentation, inspired by Murathan Biliktü's 2023 research, focuses on the enhancement of legibility in user interfaces (UI) specifically for individuals with low vision conditions. Biliktü's work, "Improving Legibility of User Interfaces for Low Vision Conditions with a Crowdsource Platform", lays the foundation for Agora's approach in designing accessible and inclusive digital environments.

Legibility vs. Readability: Simplified Definitions

Legibility focuses on how easily individual characters or words are recognized. It's influenced by font size, color contrast, character shapes, tracking, and weight.

Readability goes beyond legibility. It includes factors like line length, line spacing (leading), font familiarity, and overall text presentation. Readability is a blend of legibility and factors that make the overall text easy and comfortable to read.

Key Considerations

  1. Font Choice and Size: Select fonts that are clear and easily distinguishable at various sizes. Ensure the font size is appropriate for the content type, considering the x-height which affects overall legibility.

  2. Color and Contrast: Utilize high-contrast color schemes that differentiate text from its background, enhancing character recognition.

  3. Line Spacing (Leading): Adequate line spacing is crucial. It improves text flow and readability, especially in longer texts like articles or books.

  4. Character and Line Spacing: Balance the spacing between characters and lines. Too tight spacing can hinder readability, while too loose can disrupt visual harmony.

  5. Serif vs. Sans Serif: The debate between serif and sans-serif fonts for legibility is ongoing. However, sans-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica are often recommended for their clarity, especially in digital contexts.

  6. Typeface Weight and Style: Choose typeface weights that stand out without overwhelming the text. Bold fonts can be used for emphasis, but excessive boldness can reduce reading speed.

  7. Fixed vs. Variable Width Fonts: Consider the context of use when choosing between fixed and variable width fonts. Fixed-width fonts, like Courier, may offer advantages in certain situations.

  8. Capitalization: Use capital letters judiciously. While they can be effective for emphasis or headings, overuse can impact reading speed.

  9. Aesthetics and Emotional Impact: The visual style of a typeface can influence the emotional response of the reader. Choose typefaces that align with the intended message and tone.

  10. Accessibility: Ensure that your typography choices accommodate users with visual impairments or reading difficulties, like dyslexia.

Implementation Strategies

Responsive Design: Typography must adapt seamlessly across various screen sizes and resolutions.

User Testing: Regularly conduct user testing to gather feedback on typography effectiveness, especially from users with accessibility needs.

Continuous Improvement: Update and refine typography choices based on evolving user needs and technological advancements.

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