This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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02 October 2013

A happy story about accessible banking

A while ago, my banking website told me that it was getting a makeover. The big day arrived and… oh dear.

It looked horrible — depressing grey text, tiny and narrow, on a pale grey background. My eyes strained to read it. I asked around the office and everyone agreed that at its default setting (the size of the text when you first open the website), it was difficult to read.  That’s an accessibility problem… and my only disability is ‘middle-aged eyes’.

I complained, and it worked!
So I got on my high horse and complained about the accessibility problems. People with poor vision struggle to read when there’s little contrast between the text and the background. And a narrow typeface is usually harder to read than a wider one, for all readers. The individual letters are more indistinct.

And the good news? I wasn’t the only one to give feedback. This message now appears on the bank's login page:

'We have made some improvements to our internet banking. These improvements will make internet banking easier to use as we feature better colour contrast and text that is easier to read.

‘Thank you to everyone who sent us suggestions to improve our internet banking. We’ve taken this feedback on board and will continue to make improvements.’

Is ‘cool’ overcoming ‘clear’?
The trend for ‘cool’ grey-on-grey is spreading. Look at the new iOS7 operating system for the iPhone. Here's a screenshot of the timer. It looks fantastic, but it has me squinting through my specs. Thank you, Co-operative Bank, for putting readability ahead of design. Now would everyone else please follow their lead?

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