Several years ago, there was a big push by designers to increase the font-size of websites and I feel like we’re living in another era of accessibility improvements where a fresh batch of designers are pushing for even larger text sizing today. Take this post by Christian Miller, for example, where he writes:
The majority of websites are still anywhere in the range of 15–18px. We’re starting to see some sites adopt larger body text at around 20px or even greater on smaller desktop displays, but not enough in my opinion.
Christian attributes this to all sorts of different things, but I particularly like this bit:
Unfortunately, it’s a common mistake to purposefully design a website in a way to avoid scrolling. To the detriment of design, body text size is reduced to either reduce scrolling, or condense the layout in order to fit other elements in and around the copy.
Scrolling is a natural, established pattern on the web—people expect to have to scroll. Even when it isn’t possible, people will attempt scrolling to see if a page offers more beyond what’s initially in the viewport. Readability is more important than the amount of scrolling required—good content won’t prevent users from scrolling.
I would only push back a little bit on the advice — that legibility isn’t always tied to the font-size of a block of text. A lot of the time it has to do with contrast instead — whether the typeface is easy to read and whether it is clearly visible against the background. Overall, though, there’s a lot of great advice for designers both new and old in this post.