Some months ago, OregonLive (the online arm of Portland’s Oregonian newspaper) unveiled a new design. Overall, the design is decent enough and feels pretty good for a local news site. However, since day one, there has been one thing that has driven me mad, and that thing is the use of the font Prelo Slab.
As far as slab serif fonts go, Prelo Slab is fairly nice. However, it only works well as a large display type face. Unfortunately, it is unreadable and hard to scan at smaller sizes, which you see the OregonLive site use everywhere.
Being an avid, and occasionally rabid, news consumer, I realize the importance of making news sites scannable and easing the strain on a reader’s eyes. Prelo Slab makes the reader struggle much to hard to simply scan a headline. And once you have a list of headlines, it becomes just a flat out bad design and user experience choice.
So here is my suggestion for OregonLive.
Here is how the site currently stands:
Prelo Slab is so heavy your eye fills in all the counter spaces with black which makes it hard for your eye to distinguish individual letters.
My suggestion is to simply replace the usage of Prelo Slab with Helvetica (Arial as a fallback) on all article headlines. It is fine to use Prelo Slab for section headlines, such as where it says “Oregon Local News” and “Latest Stories”. The font size on the section headlines is large enough to gain the benefits of Prelo Slab as a nice display font.
Here is what my suggestion looks like:
So OregonLive, this is all I ask of you. Simply change your content H2 and H3 styles to a font that will encourage your readers to scan and read even more. I will be happier, and many readers who may not be completely aware of why will be happier too.