After designing a large site with multiple forms (And launching last night) My QA team came to me with a very intriguing question.

They showed me a "bug" where, when a user zooms out (not in) some of the larger form fields get out of place, drastically. If a user zooms IN, then there is no issue, everything just gets larger as expected.

Here's my question: Should I worry about these forms messing up at smaller than 100%? Do users zoom OUT on a webpage? and is it something I should be concerned about?

  • I would say most people only zoom out on accident after they have zoomed in. That being said, you should probably be using a framework that compensates for all of this. If there's an easy fix, fix it, if there's not an easy fix forget about it, and keep an eye out for this in the future – TruthOf42 Jan 31 '14 at 19:40
  • @TruthOf42 For us regular people, it's an easy fix. But the way things get fixed around here... Not so much. I can escalate it if need be, but is it really worth it to fight this battle? – ntgCleaner Jan 31 '14 at 21:17
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    then I would classify it as NOT an easy fix ;-) – TruthOf42 Jan 31 '14 at 21:19
  • is the problem in the code or the browsers ability to convert all those numbers precisely to <100% and maintain the css flow ? – Toni Leigh Feb 1 '14 at 16:28
  • The code is perfect for our needs and also for zooming in, it's how it's supposed to work. It seems that a column gets less than a certain percent and an input box with a specific size in pixels gets to be too large for it. So we either reduce the pixel size of the input by 5 px or figure something else out. – ntgCleaner Feb 2 '14 at 16:53

That's a question that is specific to your use case and why you have the problem that you do.

First, there is the question of if your users have a reason to use zoom as a rule. I know it's not one of the normal "checklist" things to account for, so unless your users have a specific reason that this is likely, it's probably a low priority to address.

Second, other than not looking "right", does it cause a functional problem on the page. Certainly, if you were starting the project, I'd say you should address it if it isn't time-prohibitive. However, at this stage, there's the question of how big of a priority it should be and unless it has a real impact on using the site, that might be low.

Lastly, though very importantly, why is it doing that? Is it an odd artifact with zoom or is it a problem with how your page's DOM is organized. If some components of your application are constrained differently than others, you might have a problem that becomes much more impactful as resolution and device norms change over the next few years. This would significantly raise the importance of addressing it sooner rather than later.

  • You have given me and my team much to think about and we are implementing further practices to avoid such obstacles. Luckily it only happens on the desktop version of the site and even with a samsung's "request desktop site" button checked on, I can not zoom OUT anymore than 100%. – ntgCleaner Feb 3 '14 at 18:24

Yes, of course. Your page shouldn't break in functionality due to built in browser preferences being changed.

If your page breaks when people use the zoom feature in the browser, then your site was coded very poorly.

Browser zoom is really important for accessibility reasons. Mom and Dad don't have the eyesight they once had. It's also useful for everyone else, as sometimes we just want to zoom in or out for whatever reason. And, of course, mobile, where it's a necessity.


Apologies, I read too quickly! On second read, I realize the bug is only if you zoom 'out'. That does change things, and I'd probably let that go. Zooming out is far less critical that accommodating zooming in. This particular problem could even be limited to a specific browser.

  • Agreed. It's the OUT part that matters here. It's actually pretty common, even among good sites, for shrinking to cause issues. Just make sure the old folks can zoom IN. – plainclothes Feb 1 '14 at 5:08
  • It does happen on all browsers and we have found a simple fix for it. I believe it has to do with how the browsers handle a border... Still looking into it – ntgCleaner Feb 3 '14 at 18:21

Would you trust a new car, that you just paid $50,000 USD to get, just to accidentally find out that the head light goes on if you put the gear in reverse and hit the left flashers? I'd immediately think "What else is wrong?"

This is about trust from your users and your customers. If the customer finds something that is unexpected and looks like a bug, you solve it. It's very bad business to deliver poor implementations, and you are unlikely to get the next order from that company, unless you fix this issue. No matter the perceived tiny damage the bug has. In business and in applications, trust is all that matters.

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    Fortunately (and unfortunately) The company is making the website for itself, basically. Not for a client. I understand it's a poor user experience IF someone zooms out. But should this be a priority among larger projects? Projects that are already underway and will deliver a better UX? P.S. I had a card (Chevy Cobalt) that, if you had the high beams on at night and turned on a turn signal, all of the lights would go out... I know the feeling! – ntgCleaner Feb 3 '14 at 18:20

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