Bruce Lawson’s personal site

Dear webdevs, from European Blind Union

Many of you lovely readers aren’t on Twitter 24/7, so heres’s a blog retweet. Or a “re-bleet” as I like to call it.

This was posted yesterday by the European Blind Union (“The voice of 30 million #blind and partially sighted people in Europe”)

In other words: yes, please use viewport meta to make content responsive. But don’t muck around with maximum-scale, minimum-scale, and user-scalable properties, as these restrict zooming.

Couldn’t be clearer, could it? We’ve been asked nicely, by those who are affected, so let’s not do it anymore.

16 Responses to “ Dear webdevs, from European Blind Union ”

Comment by Ian

I thought this was common knowledge, but sadly have heard devs use a whole host of (lame) excuses as to why they do this.

Comment by Tomas Valusek

Zooming in mobile devices is accompanied with ability to wrap text to display width, which can do only Opera. What good is a zoomed text for me, if I have to constantly move content left/right to be able to read whole text lines?

Comment by Ian

The only vaguely valid reason was an edge case in old versions of iOS where it wouldn’t rotate properly if you rotated while zoomed in.

They’ve fixed that now anyway, so there is no excuse. None.

Comment by Stomme poes

Betcha a lot of sites disabling zoom are doing it because they are using Hammer.js.

It was the main reason why I could not use it (refused to disable zoom).

Comment by Bruce


“Zooming in mobile devices is accompanied with ability to wrap text to display width, which can do only Opera. What good is a zoomed text for me, if I have to constantly move content left/right to be able to read whole text lines?”

well, then use Opera! That’s one of the features I evangelised for inside the company.

It’s a shame that other browsers don’t yet do that by default. But I’ve worked at Opera 7 years, so I know that stuff we pioneer will eventually make it into other browsers.

Comment by Tomas Valusek

Well, @Bruce, if Opera could force zooming, it would be perfect. But it can’t, so there are three flavors of browsers:
1. Non-word-wrap, non-zoom-forcing
2. Word-wrap, non-zoom-forcing
3. Non-word-wrap, zoom forcing
Unfortunately, I need:
4. Word-wrap, zoom-forcing 🙂

Comment by Benjaham

I shared this viewpoint at one timte, but after experiencing a number of usability issues on various sites that allow user-scaling, my opinion on this topic has changed.

Depending on the website, I often add the “user-scalable=no” to the viewport meta. I do this only to improve the user experience. I would argue that it is no different – or rather, it restricts the user no more – than hiding or modifying the style of certain elements in the DOM (via JavaScript or CSS media queries) based on the user’s device and/or screen size.

Comment by Patrick H. Lauke

Benjaham, sorry, but if a user can’t comfortably see the content of the site without zooming, and you’re preventing them from doing that, I don’t think they’ll be much interested in your argument that it improves their experience…

Comment by Ian

Yes, what Patrick said. The clue is in the name – “user experience”. “Users” means the people who want to use your site, not just the subsection of them who are lucky enough to have 20/20 vision. You can’t argue that destroying the experience for some of your users is improving the overall experience.

Comment by Tomas Valusek

If I visit a site on my cellphone and I can’t zoom it, I’m feeling like I’m just shown a middle finger. What a wonderful user experience, @Benjaham

Comment by Stomme poes

I think we (developers) would all benefit from hearing the usability issues Benjamin mentions. I would like the hear them.

Because without knowing them, we will not be able to convince all developers to enable user zoom, and we will not be able to contribute solutions to these usability problems that work around allowing user zoom.

Benjamin, please elaborate!

Comment by Benjaham

After reading through and considering the arguments against restricted zooming, I am definitely going to think twice before disabling zoom. I’m not necessarily arguing that websites should disable zoom in the viewport meta tag, but rather sharing my view as something to consider.

As far as usability issues, I will mention one annoyance I have personally experienced on mobile sites without the “user-scalable=no” defined. At least on iOS Safari, there is default zoom-in upon focusing form fields. This can be very confusing and frustrating, and has (at least once) caused me to accidentally submit a form prematurely (which in this particular case, meant purchasing 0.5 Bitcoin instead of the 0.05 I intended to buy :-/ ).

Sure, one could argue that this is more of a user error and less of a design flaw, but it was significant enough to make me consider adopting the ‘no-zoom’ approach.

I thought this developer, Javier Usobiaga, offered a decent suggestion in his blog post ( regarding when/if/how to use the “user-scalable” parameter. He says “If there’s a really special reason to use it (e.g., you are coding a web app and need to avoid zooming in form inputs), try adding and removing it with JavaScript, just for the action you want to fix.”

Leave a Reply

HTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> . To display code, manually escape it.