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It’s not just accessibility. I’ve last track of the number of times I’ve seen a mobile website with a table that extends past the right side of the viewport and zoom disabled. You can’t scroll, and you can’t zoom, so you can’t read the table.

Unfortunately people see accessibility as a burden that a small minority puts on the rest of us, but really it is something that benefits everyone.

For instance, normally sighted people or even people with "normal" nearsightedness, farsightedness, or presbyopia benefit from adequate contrast.

Text "size" is another thing because people should be able to control it, particularly given the wide range of different devices that are out there.

> ... a small minority ... presbyopia ...

I think what you just indirectly pointed out is that software is largely written by young, ignorant people who don't appreciate that everyone will get to experience presbyopia, and it happens sooner than you think. Maybe we should require product owners to be at least 40 years old ;-).

I've become "that guy" in presentations who constantly tells people "fonts too small", "can't read cause the contrast isn't enough", etc... My hope over time is that I stop being invited to meetings or people actually take the time to fix their presentations before it is presented to a wider audience.

For presentations, I've observed that constraints on number of slides encourage people to try to stuff a bunch of information at small font sizes on a single slide, often big blocks of text. And they are laying it out on a high dpi screen that ultimately gets scaled down when presenting (especially with screen sharing). They'll have two data points in a small font and massive amount of empty space on the slide. Very few people know how to use presentation tools effectively and most are terrible at information design.

I went through a phase of making sales presentations aimed at C-levels at big co's and was trained to pack the information on two slides into one slide and then consolidate two of those slides into one slide... And do it all without big blocks of texts or small fonts but rather well-planned complex diagrams that would draw people in and provide a great foil for spoken explanation, answering questions, etc.

In the hands of a lot of people though Powerpoint is a tool for insulting the intelligence of the whole room.

My first PPT presentation was a single graph on a slide with large axis titles and labels. It summarized the output of a model we were building.

Manager wanted to add a ton of content that they felt would be helpful. I said sure, and added it to an appendix with arrows, callouts, additional definitions, etc.

I then presented it to the CxO group -- we only discussed that first slide. I emailed the deck, and got comments back saying that the appendix was confusing but they loved how simple and clear the single non-appendix slide was.

I've always tried to follow the 4x4 rule: no more than 4 lines, and no more than 4 words per line. I've found icons and occasionally diagrams can be helpful in explaining more abstract concepts. Also, slide notes are used liberally.

One place I worked was veeery similar to what you describe here. PPT was considered docs of record since no one wanted to make formal memos and have those enter the control system. My approach had friction, since I would be extremely concise and direct people to the slide notes if they had questions. In this org, people were notorious for lifting slides from others decks for their own presentations (hence I would distribute as PDF to discourage this) since people would not field questions those slides might raise.

If you know what the presentation is about from reading the slides then those are bad slides. Slides exist to support a presentation and should not make sense without someone explaining it.

If you want to understand without attending a presentation then what you want is a paper, or book. Those are very different formats.

In many organizations this is bad advice.

I've given many presentations where I has to provide the slides, which were then repeatedly emailed as samizdat. Easy 10x as many people only read the slides, but a document would not have reached them at all.

It all depends on your audience.

Do not confuse documents written in power point with slides written in power point. Power point is a tool, it is often abused to write documents even though that isn't why the tool exists it does work. Many people prefer power point documents because it makes you think about bulleted lists which is what they want to see, but those are documents not slides.

This is true if the slides are for a presentation, but unfortunately, many people in business (coughconsultantscough) use the deck as their deliverable and cram all the information in there. A memo or report would be better in most cases, but the culture is what it is, and at the end of the day, if the CEO expects a deck, the CEO is going to get a deck.

I had the old MS Surface Pro 2 (11" screen, I think) as my daily driver for awhile, and found that designing PowerPoints and conference sessions - including code demos - to be legible on that screen led to better presentations.

A simple rule: Minimum font size >= Age of oldest attendee

I think 20 years olds can read fonts smaller than 20 light years just fine. In facts, font that big may in fact be rather troublesome…

Depends, if those fonts are used in a galaxy far, far away the angular size will still be small.

What about giving websites and web apps the ability to detect the font size preference of the user to automatically adjust the font size?

Just like native apps do...?

Websites have that ability, both in CSS with types that are defined relative to the users set font size, and to detect it in JS. The platforms capability is not the problem here.

This. HTML was actually created to be accessible by default. One needs to make an effort (unfortunately not very big effort) to break it.

Hmm really? How do you do that? The `rem` and `em` CSS units do not reflect iOS font-size settings if this is what you mean (I don't know about Android).

It's true that mobile Safari seems to lack a setting for default font size or what Mac Safari has, a minimum font size setting.

It does have a default Page Zoom setting and it will remember Page Zoom changes per-domain (e.g. I have this site set to 115%).

There is a way for web sites to make use of iOS's Dynamic Type setting [0] to make text larger, but it's up to each site's author to include the requisite values in their CSS.

[0] https://www.interactiveaccessibility.com/blog/text-resizing-...

1 rem is supposed to be the font size of the root element. 1 em is the font size of the parent. If a browser isn't implementing those in such a manner then it seems like it would be a bug.


Does Safari not have a UI for the user to set a font-size preference? Most browser do.

Even native apps are often broken when you enable "large fonts". I've used large fonts since forever and even now are using 1440p on 32" screen (I'm not wearing glasses or anything).

What do you mean?

Browsers are native apps, so they already do that for websites.

Maybe 10*log(max({ages})). But really, configurability is usually better.

I think if you applied this literally it'd be pretty patronizing ;)

Relax. He works at a day care center.

This doesn't make much sense to me. I have coworkers who are 50+ years old, so are you saying everything should be size 50 font? That seems pretty ridiculous and kind of like mocking them.

My presentations use the defaults on Impact - big fonts, black on white, no border, no decoration.

From time to time people complain and say I need to "get with it", but not a single person has complained they couldn't read them from the back of the room!

I'm very critical of that as well. Stop wasting whitespace, and stop using miniscule fonts.

For years my optometrist told me I would eventually get presbyopia and then finally I reached the point where I need two pairs of glasses.

It is on my mind because one of my hobbies is a cyberphysical artsystem that has a small book of design rules and presbyopia is what sets the limits on feature size. (You can't just tell people "hold the card closer")

Could you explain a bit more what do you mean by "cyberphysical artsystem" ? I have no clue what this is, but the name sounds cool

This fills about 1/3 of a wall in my office


and is made of 8″x8″ cards. That's the first constellation I made, most of the output is either stand alone 4″x6″ cards or constellations. I'm working now on my third constellation from images published by Ukraine's MoD.

I've been dragging on my feet about blogging a manifesto for the three-sided cards, first because the system was changing by the day (it was a big thing for me to realize I could eliminate paper jams by printing the back side first) and then because I found hugo is good for anything except things that involve quantitative thinking or artistic sensibilities. I am still looking for a static site generator that's the equal of the subjects I want to blog about.

Thank you for the nerd snipe. Fascinating.

And they're using the very latest macbook pro with a fast and reliable internet connection, on which the site/app seems to work just fine and must therefore be ok.

It happens to everybody.

Circa 2008 I was working on a Silverlight RIA in a company that had MSDN subscriptions for everyone.

It worked just fine over the LAN off the server in our Ithaca office but when we demoed it for the people at the office in Rochester it took the application 40 minutes to boot because of all the round tripping.

That won me all the arguments I'd been having about excessive round tripping, getting that 40 minutes down to 40 seconds wasn't hard once those questions were resolved.

Also color blindness and low contrast.

I don't think this is reality. There might be some truth to it, but in my opinion the real problem is the platform itself. I'm going to blame it on browsers and web standards.

The web was not designed with accessibility as default. Instead it is a significant amount of work to make things accessible. Every project incurs huge cost in order to achieve it. I truly believe from an accessibility standpoint the web is simply broken. So sure, blame it on young programmers. But that's a poor excuse for where we are at today in my humble opinion.


It seems to me the web is accessible by default. Write a plain old HTML page and everybody should be able to read it (assuming they have a computer to open it or a printed version).

People go out of their ways to mess this up by using fancy colors, fancy web fonts, messed up JS (frameworks), non standard components because it's cooler, disabling outlines, and so on.

Do you have examples where the Web is not accessible by default, apart from the by default unlimited line width which is easily fixable with one line of CSS?

Sure you need to use the right markup for the right things (and, no, <div> is usually not the right element for building a button or writing a paragraph, there are dedicated tags for those) but I can't see a way to avoid this.

Yep. Just write in HTML, and the browser will render everything for you. It's almost as if the browser treated HTML as if, I dunno, it was some kind of markup language, you know, with hypertext, and stuff, and could automatically render it. /s

I remember back in the late 90's, and we decided to create a static website for internal use on a project. Everything was supposed to be quick and simple. We weren't after anything fancy, just something that worked.

We used Microsoft's whatever-it-was-called at the time for writing webpages. It turned out that the html produced required some special Microsoft fonts for the web.

Hells bells. The whole point of the Internet is interoperability. But no. We can't have that, can we Microsoft? We need special fonts. Interoperability? Screw that!

About the same time Java on webpages was a thing. We never used them, but I had seen sites that had. So the site had to download some Java craplet, whatever it was called, you had to enable it, plus of course you had to have Java.

Even when the web was still young, people had some really dumb ideas.

Then there was a fad that sites had to have some kind of animated intro on the front page. I remember seeing one for my bank and a recruitment site. No doubt that cost them a pretty penny.

Those early internet fads have died out, but today's websites are no better.

Why does my browser have to download fonts? I already have fonts! Just use one of those!

Anyway, that's me done. I'm off to shout at some clouds. Not the virtual clouds, actual real ones.

>We used Microsoft's whatever-it-was-called at the time for writing webpages.

Frontpage, I'm going to bet. :)

I was an early user of Frontpage, shortly after Vermeer released it. A few months later, it was bought by Microsoft. Looks like Frontpage was absorbed and discontinued (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_FrontPage).

It was handy but I was just messing around with a very simple personal website and most of the time I'd just use Notepad or something like that.

>About the same time Java on webpages was a thing.

Guilty... I wrote a simple java applet to draw a polar plot of antenna radiation patterns. Later I added a calculator applet - after all, how handy would a simple calculator only a website away be?? I should have gone with the trends and converted both to javascript... but I did not.

>Then there was a fad that sites had to have some kind of animated intro on the front page

I remember the omni-present "site under construction" animated gif. As in, > 50% of websites had them somewhere.

Follow the link in this article (https://www.vice.com/en/article/9akenz/this-guy-compiled-eve...) for an eye-bleeding collection. Haha!

> Frontpage, I'm going to bet. :)

Yes. That sounds right.

Yeah I agree. A plain old web page is rarely a problem. Ctrl-plus-plus-plus-plus however many times I need it, and I'm good. It's always 'modern' web pages that insist on fighting me.

We need to admit that "modern" web pages are a thing. If we keep ignoring most of the web because "they are doing it wrong" then accessibility will never be solved.

It seems to me you can build quite complex things that will be accessible by default with the web platform.

IF don't fight it and if you respect semantics and progressive enhancement / beautiful degradation. You get so much by default: legible colors and font sizes, tabbed page navigation, alt texts, clickable labels, zoomable interface...

When you embrace the platform and its spirit, you get accessible results quite easily. But not a lot of people seem to embrace it. Many people seem to think "what to do for what I want to see" instead of "what to do for what I want to mean", and you lose if you do this. You need to get your meaning right and then decorate it carefully. You should not paint first. But that's probably not a web-specific issue.

What's more, building accessible things may make you gain time, by having a robust basis. It's not always a cost.

I'm just trying to step back and look at things objectively. Instead of saying "arg developers are just stupid" I'm trying to analyze why these mistakes are made so frequently (even at big corporations with lots of funding).

There are native UI frameworks where this is not nearly as big of an issue.

Too much freedom perhaps? Should you even be able to give a div an onclick handler?

What about inputs? Why do developers have to make custom inputs because the core ones are severely lacking? That's where accessibility goes wrong. Because core functionality is terrible and needs to be augmented with richer functionality (but terrible from an accessibility perspective).

There is something fundamental about this platform that does not naturally encourage good behavior. All you have to do is look at the evidence.

As an dumb little example, it's not even obvious that making a div a button is bad unless you know that it is. The platform doesn't guide you at all. It has an onClick handler the same as a button. Little attempt is made to differentiate the two from an API perspective.

I could give countless other examples, but I think I have demonstrated what I am getting at.

> Too much freedom perhaps?

> Because core functionality is terrible and needs to be augmented with richer functionality

Well, yes, I agree with both of these points. I think I get your point in the end, and your examples are convincing.

I'd say the web platform is accessible by default but this is easy to break inadvertently and maybe not the ideal platform to build applications because despite its strong accessibility features, it's lacking for what we want to do with it today.

HTML being a format to write documents first and not applications probably does not help neither.

> The web was not designed with accessibility as default. Instead it is a significant amount of work to make things accessible. Every project incurs huge cost in order to achieve it.

This has got to be satire right? HTML is accessible by default, it's your horrible JS SPA frameworks that break thid. See [0]

[0]: https://motherfuckingwebsite.com/

For my day job I put a lot of effort into making an SPA accessible but it is absolutely important to the business because our customers demand it.

I haven't perceived maintaining accessibility to be a big burden in the long term.

Interestingly the accessibility project forced me to raise my game on CSS/HTML, graphic design, etc. and probably had a bigger impact on my side projects than it did on my work.

I put in this work as well. It's not about "burden" but cost. Clearly there is a cost here (your time). I don't mind spending the time, but that doesn't mean it costs nothing.

Now multiply this times every web app in existence and the cost is quite large. A lot of this could be avoided with a better platform.

I have the default font size boosted slightly. A large percentage of web sites and applications don't work with it, the text is cut off. Even ones from Microsoft.

The irony is you have to work to get this to not work. HTML by default will render just fine. Developers just can't resist customizing it so it doesn't work.

My web sites use plain HTML as much as possible. They're derided for being "Web 1.0", but they work, load in a flash, can be resized by the user, are legible, etc.

Even Apple went with pages that were light grey text on white with a tiny font. My eyeballs would just hurt trying to read it. This was a few years ago, maybe they fixed it, but I grew to avoid reading Apple's online docs because it was literally painful.

I have Dark Reader installed, adding to that, I actually changed my browser's (Firefox) base font colours to light text on dark background to prevent white flashing issues in pages that ignore dark stylesheets.

Android can't even render all of its own system UI widgets if you choose one of its larger built-in font size options on a Google phone.

> normally sighted people or even people with "normal" nearsightedness, farsightedness, or presbyopia benefit from adequate contrast.

Makes me think of the oxo good grips kitchen utensils. They were designed designed for people with poor dexterity and as a result have become easier for everyone, this has made them extent l extremely popular

> Unfortunately people see accessibility as a burden that a small minority puts on the rest of us, but really it is something that benefits everyone

Depends on the individual case — I’ve seen entire projects get scrapped because it wouldn’t be feasible to make an “accessible” version. Some things just aren’t work for everyone and that’s okay.

Accessibility is like performance, and security, and portability: You don't create the product, and then "spoon a little security in" right before shipping. You build it from the start as secure, with security as a first-class goal, and gate features on whether or not they are secure. Same for accessibility. You don't try to take an existing inaccessible project and wave a magic accessibility wand around it late in the game. It should be a first class design principle. If you are hiring a UI designer or interaction designer, pay attention to how seriously they take accessibility in their designs. If they're good, their designs are accessible by default, because as a Cousin Comment said, accessibility is not just "usable by the disabled" it's "usable by everyone".

I would argue that "usable by everyone" is an unreasonable goal which tends to result in catering to the lowest common denominator.

For example, take buildings -- they typically have stairways, often as a fire escape route. However, stairways are not usable by everyone. Should we ensure that buildings have no stairways at all because there exist some people who can't use them?

To apply this analogy to web accessibility, consider WCAG 2.5.5 Target Size -- in order to pass, click targets must be 44px by 44px. Seems reasonable right? Try designing a desktop spreadsheet program with 44x44 click targets. It's basically impossible to do in a way that doesn't severely impair the design for people who can click smaller targets.

> I would argue that "usable by everyone" is an unreasonable goal which tends to result in catering to the lowest common denominator.

Extremes are always unreasonable, the goal should be to support everyone that you reasonably can. Nobody is telling anyone to make their tools work for the blind deaf and mute quadruple amputee - but that does not mean that it should be acceptable to completely ignore the variations in capability of people wanting to use your product.

> To apply this analogy to web accessibility, consider WCAG 2.5.5 Target Size -- in order to pass, click targets must be 44px by 44px. Seems reasonable right? Try designing a desktop spreadsheet program with 44x44 click targets. It's basically impossible to do in a way that doesn't severely impair the design for people who can click smaller targets.

Blindly following guidelines leads to problems, yes. But you can achieve the goal of making the spreadsheed usable for someone who has trouble with small click targets: For a desktop program you should consider adding efficient and discoverable keyboard navigation so that noone needs to click anything. This will help power users as well as those with fine motion problems. In general, a program, unlike a physical staircase, is also something that can dynamically adapt to the needs of the user. For example you could make your spreadsheet zoomable. For a desktop program it could be OK to rely on third-party (or platform-provided) zoom utilities - just don't write your program in a way that makes those impossible to use.

For buildings such dynamic adaption is not as feasible and so we make compromises that require some people to rely on others for help in incommon situations. But even there we should do what we resonably can - for in many parts of the world public buildings do have wheelchair-accessible entrances these days, even if the emergency exit is a stair.

When building new commercial buildings (in the US,) accessibility is a non-negotiable requirement. And for good reason. If an accessible version wasn’t feasible in software, then it’s likely the project should have been scrapped just as a commercial building would never be built without accessibility as part of the core design. There shouldn’t be an “accessible version,” accessibility should be the default. Accessibility should be integral to everything built — especially software.

But what counts as needing to be accessible?

A staircase isn't accessible, but still allowed. The accessibility is in an alternate implementation provided for those who need it.

A phone call is an accessible alternative to a website. US law says that the phone call must be offered at the same price as the website, for those who need it.

> A staircase isn't accessible, but still allowed. The accessibility is in an alternate implementation provided for those who need it.

Exactly this -- some things just aren't going to be for everyone. If we truly wanted to make buildings "accessible", all stairways, and even printed signage would have to be banned, as there exists someone who cannot benefit from it.

No, accessibility does not mean that everyone is knocked down to the same level. The staircase is not the feature, getting to different floors is - so it is acceptable to have a staircase for those that can and want to use it and an elevator for those that can't. Visual signage is acceptable as long as their a also navigation aids for the blind. And yes, whe do require these for many places.

A flip side is that any bureaucratic mandate is a "free pass" to reject anything that's hard to find another justification for rejecting... In terms of institutional requirements it is a gift as much as a burden.

also keyboard shortcuts, a compliant app needs to be accessible through predictable shortcuts. This benefits us all.

Maybe this is a good place to ask since there's a lot of web devs here:

What is SO effing hard about drawing within the screen on web?! I can't tell you the number of times I've seen this issue. Just the other day I saw reddit's sign up form is totally broken on iOS, you have to swap between landscape/portrait multiple times and hope whatever garbage layout engine it uses redraws the button inside the screen.

It's because designers work with placeholder data. I worked full-time as a dev and saw this over and over and over again. The good designers would adapt, but some never learned.

As soon as you put real data into a website, especially if the website is a CMS that you've handed-off to a _non-technical_ client, it's going to overflow every pretty, grid-based box.

I think it's because almost all web design happens on computer screens, not mobile devices. More important, all web designers show their bosses their creations on a big computer screen in a conference room--the bigger the better so everybody can go "oooh!" and "aaaah!" and the designer can get a big fat raise.

I expect it's fairly rare for the employer of a web designer to give a shit what the site looks like on a phone, which means the designers don't give a shit either.

What's strange about that is that a collection of old devices is very cheap. It's trivial to have a box and test them.

You don't need a collection of devices to test layout issues - just use e.g. Firefox's Responsive Design Mode [0] or another browser's equivalent and resize the viewport to whatever. Same applies for native applications - make your window resizable (it should be resizable anyway) and drag the corner around. Does the content behave and look how you'd expect it to? Good. Otherwise, fix it.

I see this "we can't afford to test on different resolutions" excuse with games that completely break for anything that is not 16:9 a lot. Don't target a fixed size. Don't target a fixed aspect ratio. Don't target a set of aspect ratios. Make your application responsive - you don't need different devices to test that responsiveness.

[0] https://firefox-source-docs.mozilla.org/devtools-user/index....

"People using those devices are not our target demographic."

Then they complain that people in that demographic don't use their product. Because it turns out that people in that demographic exist and they're trapped in a bubble where anyone who is using an old device is a child, elderly person or homeless.

Yep. My favourite was somebody said a device was crap and nobody worth pursuing as customer would be using it ... and it was the same phone our CEO was using.

It starts with the fact that designs, and the development that uses them, usually think in terms of fixed rectangles. You've got a 1920x1080 desktop rectangle and a 375x812 mobile rectangle and rarely is much thought put in to what happens when your viewport is a different size. And what thought that is put in goes toward horizontal differences, since the assumption is that things will just scroll vertically.

But, as you've noticed, with more complex UI (especially modals and toolbars fixed to the screen) it becomes more important that things are built to fit horizontally and vertically. It's not necessarily hard but it does take more thought to work out how things will shrink, grow, scroll, etc.

> What is SO effing hard about drawing within the screen on web?!

It’s because the web’s layout primitives don’t compose well. There’s no easy way to say “this is a full-width container and nothing inside it can go off screen.” As an obvious example, any descendant of that container can use fixed positioning and do whatever it wants. But there are subtler examples that are easier to fall victim to. The way to fix this is to built your own higher-level layout primitives and have conventions or tooling to enforce that you compose them only in approved ways.

> There’s no easy way to say “this is a full-width container and nothing inside it can go off screen.”

  overflow: auto;
> As an obvious example, any descendant of that container can use fixed positioning and do whatever it wants.

Fixed positioning is you explicitly opting out of composability.

> The way to fix this is to built your own higher-level layout primitives and have conventions or tooling to enforce that you compose them only in approved ways.

No, the way to fix it is to look at your DOM and CSS instead of adding more abstractions with broken edge cases on top of your abstractions.

This is a constant issue for me (Chrome on Android) on GMail's Web UI (yes, I insist on using the Web UI...). So many emails are entirely unreadable since they go right off the right side, and you can't zoom.

Wow. I had no idea that this was something explicitly imposed on us by developers! I thought it was some kind of inherent issue with mobile.

I know exactly what you're talking about. A lot of times those tables are sized exactly for a horizontal view, so always try tilting your phone 90 degrees and it may work.

> you can’t read the table

Which makes the table content inaccessible. It _is_ an accessibility issue.

Here's the definition I prefer, that does not focus on "disabilities" (which many people equate "accessibility" with):

> When we say a site is accessible, we mean that the site's content is available, and its functionality can be operated, by literally anyone.


It's just constant. I know I am an oddball but I use firefox, which at this point is basically unsupported online. Pages just _dont_ work right. Of course my 600 extensions, from tridactyl(vim kb) to no script tend to break even more.

But it frustrates me to no end that a browser is no longer a "User" Agent and is now just seen as a... virtual machine for apps?

As a fellow Firefox user this is not my experience at all. Most stuff works fine once I allow the necessary subset in uMatrix. Some things are a pain in the ass, like embedded video widgets that need to load in dozens of scripts from all over the web before they'll finally get to the actual video frames, but I can pretty much always get stuff to work.

One tip: Don't try to install too many general filtering extensions (uMatrix, Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, etc...) at the same time because they will end up fighting.

Same here..I don't even have another browser installed on my main machine. Never have the need for it, FF works great. I think the OP has too many plugins :)

now some apps grab keys from the browser like "control-F" won't give me a native search modal dialog - instead providing their own search widget. Things like this break experience of the web for me. Combine that with tridactyl which i prefer to use to navigate around and it's even worse.

My addon list isnt that big either... it's just that I disable a lot of things as well, like webGL and other stuff. Suprising number of sites needlessly use these things.

You might be able to fix the ctrl-f thing in Tridactyl with `:help blacklistkeys`, although I'm not sure it will catch keys with modifiers.

Follow https://github.com/tridactyl/tridactyl/issues/2712 if you want updates when that's added. It would help if you could link to the website that hijacks ctrl-f in that issue :)

Another maddening thing are tiny fonts on mobile devices and pinch zoom does not reflow text. So you can't read without zooming in, and you can't see the whole page when you do, so you need to put your phone in landscape mode and drag left and right to read each and every row.

Even though loads of browsers support it on desktop, bizarrely not so much on mobile.

Even better, one chrome issue/bug report, had google devs on the tracker explaining how it's fine, and how each website should just fix things.

They were blathering on about how websites are broken, should be fixed, utter absurd.

The sheer, unmitigated gall, of saying "screw users" is beyond comprehension.

Google: unless you want another series of Professor Farnsworth posters around HQ, fix it!

This is mostly due to the broken by default rendering of mobile browsers that emulate a larger desktop browser window unless the website specifically opts into the sane responsive behavior via the <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1"> tag. This is especially idiotic since mobile browsers now have an explicit desktop mode that forces this behavior.

Hipster logic: if it works on my machine, you have the wrong machine.

Sometimes you need to prevent zoom in order to implement your own zoom though.

For example if you're making a WebGL app, or if you're making a map zooming widget that needs to progressively load more local detail as the user zooms in on an area.

If you don't disable zoom, the OS and your zoom logic will be fighting over the pinch gesture.

maximum-scale and user-scalable=no seem like browser mis-features. Perhaps the OP would have more success appealing to browser developers to follow Apple and Samsung’s lead, and get browsers to ignore them?

It's definitely always a mis-feature for websites. It can make sense for webapps in rare cases [0]. Well, disabling the pinch gesture makes sense for those, ideally the browser would still provide another way to change the zoom.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31274454

What mobile browser? On iOS Safari, all the example websites mentioned by the OP allowed me to zoom. I guess Safari doesn’t allow zoom to be disabled by websites? Maybe all browsers should work this way?

I use iOS Firefox, because I love desktop Firefox and I have Firefo set up with account sync across all my devices. But there's a feature of desktop Firefox which isn't available on the iOS version: remember zoom setting for a domain.

iOS Firefox does have pinch-to-zoom, but having to use it every time I navigate to a page is tiresome.

iOS Firefox is a small niche choice and not the same codebase as desktop Firefox because Apple requires that you use their rendering engine. So I'm not sure it makes sense for Mozilla to dedicate the kind of resources to it to implement all the features I might want, and I don't have a lot of gripes. But as a datapoint in this thread, zoom is really important to me, and I miss it when it's not available. I shake my head every time I visit Google search results on my iPad because the text is so tiny.

It says so in the article

I've had this happen on iOS Safari. It happens everywhere.

Weird. I don’t see this, or maybe I’m misunderstanding the problem. Do you have an example site?

Many websites have this problem with their main navigation bar.

Wikipedia comes to mind for this!

that's accessibility

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