How Medium designed its underlines


Last time I moved heaven and earth all hell broke loose.


in the event of changing the fonts or font sizes in the future

!!! I would be the happiest boy on earth if I could dial that down.


It’s the risk you take when you play God.

This is genius - laboring over tiny details until the total effect is anything but negligible.

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So good, and really happy to see people displaying their development with typography, makes for educated users.

My perennial rule with setting type: If you do it right, it looks like you haven’t done anything.

What a great article about how ridiculous it is to design the most basic typographical elements for the web. If I were doing this work in page layout program, it would be a simple thing to make a change to an underline or rule, but on the web, it’s a major programming effort. And then making it work consistently in every browser for all time - fuggedaboutit.


All that work to achieve uglier and less functional. Lord, do I miss the days when HTML formatted with <em> and <i> and <i> was deprecated because it presumed to tell you how something should look, rather than informing you browser of what something was, and letting you decide.


This is a pet peeve of mine.

There is a reason the browser is refered to as the user agent. Because it is meant to exercise agency regarding the display of HTML elements and other web content on behalf of the user. This is the reason <strong> is preferred over <b>, <em> over <i> - the former are indications of the writer’s intent - express this part strongly, emphasize this part, in a medium-appropriate way consistent with the user’s preference - the latter are indications of a typesetter’s intent, ignoring the fact that not all of the readers will be using a typeset medium.

You have your preference as to how links should be indicated on your screen. How nice for you. Colourblind people, and users of cellphones and text-only browsers and screen readers and braille readers have their own. Please stop trying to break people’s custom stylesheets and user agent configurations.


Yes, how dare an author express their desire that their work appear a specific way. Better they should sacrifice their aesthetic integrity and subject the overwhelming majority of their readers to inferior design instead of causing minor inconvenience to a small subset of their non-paying readership, especially when those affected can use tools like readability to reinterpret the content.

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In the near future the default font size for trendy web pages will be one that was previously reserved solely for headlines in The Sun.


I thought dragonfrog made a good point. Sure, designers will want to create a specific aesthetic experience, but they’re not as good a judge as the user is of the user’s own needs.


Yeah…fuck you, blind people. Just go use some third-party tool like Readability so your screenreaders can make sense of our typographically perfect layout.

(Part of my job is dealing with web accessibility issues…these things are frequently major deal breaking headaches, not minor inconveniences).


If it doesn’t meet the reader’s needs the reader can go elsewhere. And if it ends up being a better experience they’ll gain viewers. That’s kind of how things are supposed to work.

It’s not clear that what Medium has broken anyone’s configurations or stylesheets. I mean, if Google has dropped underlining links altogether, wouldn’t that also break things? And since Readability has no problem imposing its own style on Medium’s content, it’s difficult to see how this could be all that difficult to overcome.

I’m sure there are lots of real-life challenges for blind people. I’m not sure Medium’s underlining is a major one in comparison, or at all. They’re not providing an essential service. They’re a design-oriented website. Design choices are obviously important to them, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have the right to design integrity. It’s also not like they implemented this in a way that breaks accessibility when a simpler alternative existed. It seems a bit like blaming Lamborghini for designing cars that 300 pound people can’t fit into, or that cant be easily adapted for those in wheelchairs.

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