Chris Ashton

dai11y 13/09/2021

This frequent11y issue is a Twitter special! I’ve already recently written about how Twitter’s new design has been giving users headaches. But there have been a flurry of other articles about Twitter, so I thought I’d round them up for you.

  • What’s Really Wrong With the New Twitter Font
    • An interview with Frederick Brennan, who designs open source fonts, though is better known for founding and then trying to shut down the imageboard site 8chan.
    • “[Twitter’s newly commissioned font] Chirp is extremely similar to GT America, which is itself based on Franklin Gothic. They changed the spacing ever so slightly and changed the square dots over i and j, and then the period and comma to be circular”
    • Frederick says that typeface readability is cultural; “in the Middle Ages, people found Gothic lettering to be extremely readable”. Given enough time, people would get used to the new font.
    • There’s a problem with the hinting, causing some letters to look one pixel too tall or short on particular screen sizes. “This is something really fundamental and basic to type design. This definitely points to [Twitter] cheaping out.”
  • Twitter’s web redesign isn’t as accessible as it should be, experts say
    • This TechCrunch article explains that the new high-contrast design, whilst generally making things more legible for those with low vision, is causing ‘strain’ for some users.
    • In September last year, Twitter introduced two dedicated accessibility teams, after previously relying on employees to volunteer to do accessibility work on top of their regular jobs. Whilst this was a positive move, some experts suggest that Twitter did not include disabled people in the design decisions early enough; Twitter disputes this.
    • Twitter has made a11y improvements in other areas, including SRT subtitle file support for videos, and live captioning.
    • The article calls out a saturation slider that Discord added to its desktop app accessibility settings.
    • “Web accessibility isn’t one-size fits all — while some users may need a high-contrast display, others who suffer from chronic migraines might require a more muted experience”. It’s odd that Twitter did not offer an option to reduce contrast or change font, as it already has customisation options for dark/light modes, font size and link colours.
  • Twitter’s new font and Last of Us 2: an accessibility lesson to be learned
    • Continuing the customisation theme, this UX Collective article suggests Twitter should give users more choice over their UI settings, taking inspiration from Last of Us 2, which has over 60 different accessibility settings. It is possible to play the game entirely by sound, or one-handed.
    • The game’s designers initially broke the settings down into ‘accessibility modes’ for hearing impaired gamers, or for those with motor control issues. But users wanted to really be able to fine tune their settings, so the designers had to “give up their nice, tidy menus in favour of something a little messier”.

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