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One of my clients is asking me to make column head labels bigger, but i prefer them smaller but bold and lighter. which one should be the better? bigger and bolder headings for each column? or smaller and lighter?

as a web designer i prefer the latter but i can't seem to explain to them why

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I'm not sure what 'smaller but bold and lighter' means. They are bold and light at the same time? –  Ben Durnell Jan 25 '13 at 8:22
    
Please provide more details, screenshots, examples of both, what type of content is being used, who is supposed to read the content etc. You cannot say to a client that your opinion is the correct answer if you cannot explain why. –  Kayo Jan 25 '13 at 10:37

5 Answers 5

up vote 1 down vote accepted

One is not better than the other, they are simply different approaches to achieve similar goals.

It sounds like what your client is really saying is that they want the column headings to stand out from the content more. One of your jobs as a designer is do interpret what your client wants into a visually appealing design. So try some variations on what could make it stand out.

Things that you can vary include: font type, font size, font colour, font weighting, alignment, background colour, background texture, padding, cell height, cell border, border colour, border weight and letter spacing. Those are a lot of options, and you can't expect your client to understand them all and the visual consequences of them.

You should still do a version with exactly what your client asked, but you should also present one or two versions of your own that try to achieve the same underlying goal. You should also explain why you believe they are better, but use objective terms rather than just saying "I prefer this".

After that, if your client chooses something you don't like, it's up to you whether to accept it, quit, or fight for your choice. And that is a wisdom issue, not a UX one :)

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The client is always right.

However from my experience when a client says that something has to be bolder, bigger or more web 2.0 it doesn't mean that exactly. Clients are not designers and sometimes they just jump to the easiest solution, or the solution that always worked for them. From my understanding what the client is asking is to make the headers more prominent.

Also to create visual hierarchy bigger and bolder headings are typically used.

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The client is always right. The client is mostly wrong. Consulting is a tough business ;) –  plainclothes Jan 25 '13 at 23:39
    
Client is always right, sometimes they just need educating about the best approach to solve their problem and that's where we come in. –  Igor-G Jan 28 '13 at 11:36

Size, color and saturation are all ways to differentiate content from other content.

  • Making the labels bigger will make them stand out.
  • Keeping the labels the same size as the table text, but bolding them and making them less saturated, which I'm guessing is what you meant by "lighter", will also make them stand out.

Some questions to help the decision:

  1. Do you have many different sizes of text already in the design? That would be a reason not to add another level of size differentiation.
  2. Do you have many different text colors and weights already in the design? That would be a reason to not add another text weight/color/saturation combo.

If there's lots of text sizes already, you have an objective leg to stand on. If there are only a few different text sizes in the design, there isn't necessarily a good objective reason to tell the client "no". If your Designer's Intuition still tells you that your way is better, invent a reason and make it sound objective.

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You should consider pros and cons of both ways. If you increase a font size, a website content will be longer than a website has a small font. Users have to scroll many times to reach the end of the page, so it is not desirable. Different fonts changes look and feel, so bigger fonts may make the site does not look good.

I suggest you to do low fidelity prototypes of both designs, and evaluate them with customers and clients to learn pros and cons. If the design clients prefer is not good, you prove it by its evaluation.

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Your description is a bit confusing. Perhaps your client simply means that the header isn't prominent enough.

You can make the header labels stand out in multiple ways. More negative space, soft gradient background, all caps (for headers only), Using a different color, etc.

I would provide alternative solutions for your client (including the one your client asked for). The harsh reality is, the client is the one paying you for a service. You can only advise them the best way you can.

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