Don’t succumb to peer pressure!

A design trend that drives me crazy is centered text.

I beg you—don’t do it. It breaks the #1 rule of website design:

#1 Rule: Don’t irritate your visitor. (That includes making them work too hard.)

How does centered text break this rule?

1. It goes against our training.

We were taught to read from left to right. We have trained our eyes so that at the end of a line of text they immediately jump to the far left of the page to find the beginning of the next line. These quick eye movements are called saccades.
When the text is not centered, our eyes still go back to the far left to find the beginning of the next line. When the eyes don’t see the expected text, they have to make an extra movement to find the beginning of that line. For every single line. That’s unnatural and irritating.

2. It’s tiring.

When we have to make adjustments for every line, our brains get tired. Don’t make your visitor work so hard—they may not bother to finish reading your content. Yes, all that lovely content you worked hard to create. Don’t sabotage yourself.

3. It interrupts brain processing.

The extra eye movements cause interruptions on every line. This cause the brain to process the information in a disjointed way. Again, readers won’t get the value you intended from your content. How disappointing for you (and irksome for them).

4. It is not good for accessibility.

Visitors with dyslexia or other processing disorders find centered text even more challenging. Don’t ignore them.

Then why do people use it?!

I can only guess!

  • Perhaps they don’t like the look of a ragged right margin.
  • Perhaps they think it looks creative or edgy.
  • Perhaps they see everyone else doing it and want to fit in (peer pressure!)

Can I ever use centered text?

Yes! There are appropriate uses for centered text, if you desire;

  • Titles and headings (but not subheadings)
  • Short quotes
  • Emphasis (like a date or call to action).

AND DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT RIGHT-ALIGNMENT!

Not convinced? Here’s everything centered!

 

A design trend that drives me crazy is centered text.

I beg you—don’t do it. It breaks the #1 rule of website design:

#1 Rule: Don’t irritate your visitor. (That includes making them work too hard.)

How does centered text break this rule?

1. It goes against our training.

We were taught to read from left to right. We have trained our eyes so that at the end of a line of text they immediately jump to the far left of the page to find the beginning of the next line. These quick eye movements are called saccades.
When the text is not centered, our eyes still go back to the far left to find the beginning of the next line. When the eyes don’t see the expected text, they have to make an extra movement to find the beginning of that line. For every single line. That’s unnatural and irritating.

2. It’s tiring.

When we have to make adjustments for every line, our brains get tired. Don’t make your visitor work so hard—they may not bother to finish reading your content. Yes, all that lovely content you worked hard to create. Don’t sabotage yourself.

3. It interrupts brain processing.

The extra eye movements cause interruptions on every line. This cause the brain to process the information in a disjointed way. Again, readers won’t get the value you intended from your content. How disappointing for you (and irksome for them).

4. It is not good for accessibility.

Visitors with dyslexia or other processing disorders find centered text even more challenging. Don’t ignore them.

Then why do people use it?!

I can only guess!

  • Perhaps they don’t like the look of a ragged right margin.
  • Perhaps they think it looks creative or edgy.
  • Perhaps they see everyone else doing it and want to fit in (peer pressure!)

Can I ever use centered text?

Yes! There are appropriate uses for centered text, if you desire;

  • Titles and headings (but not subheadings)
  • Short quotes
  • Emphasis (like a date or call to action).

Not convinced? Here’s everything centered!

 

Choose clarity over trendiness, my friends!
Julie

P.S. For graphics of my design tips, check out my Facebook page.