Seeking Your Feedback on the Reading Experience

Design Act 2010

Design Act 2010 by RSNY / Flickr

As some of you may be aware, over the past month I overhauled my site design. I’m continuing to tweak and improve the experience and would value your feedback, especially from those of you who read my posts regularly on the site (rather than via e-mail or RSS feeds).

One thing I’ll soon change is the appearance of the headers in my blog posts. Take a look at the two options below, and if you have a preference, do leave a comment. I’m also open to your suggestions on making the site more reader-friendly and usable.





Posted in Uncategorized.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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I prefer subhead #2, for what it’s worth. It looks friendlier than #1. 

David Nevin

Me too. Option 2 look good.

John Tomlinson

I prefer #1, I like sans serif fonts in headings.

Jim Hamlett

Though I prefer serif fonts, I doubt I’ll stop reading your stuff if you go sans in your headers. In fact, I sort of like the subtle difference.


It’s a subtle difference, but I like the first one.

Meryl K Evans

Option 1 … and use black font rather than a variation of gray. This is something I’ve been trying to encourage people to change. It feels like reading in a fog even with dark gray as every monitor has different settings.

Azlan Ismail

Although the professional in me prefers the font of Subhead #1, I have to admit that there is something “friendly” about the font of Subhead #2.


It took me forever to figure out a difference.  I had to read the comments to understand the font was the thing different.  So I would say it doesn’t matter.  I can say that I do not like diqus.  I must get an “open id” to have my link entered, which I cannot figure out, bc it is not just my url. I googled it and it seems like an avatar-y thing. It prevents me from commenting on many blogs I enjoy reading.  Some I cannot even be a guest.    At least disqus allows me to be a guest… Read more »

Dane Zeller

You have a simple, informative style for your whole blog. Keep it simple: Option 2. That would apply to your headline style, also. Don’t worry, though, option 1 would not cause me to unfriend  you. 


I like #2 as well. Just easier to read. Not as “stylish” or “flashy” as a sans-serif font, but in the end, being read is what counts.

Mindy Halleck

It took me a minute to figure out the difference was in the font. So, #2 fits your blog style better than one. It’s a warmer, friendlier font. Though, honestly the font wouldn’t make or break my desire to read soemthing.

Andrea Drugay

I agree with what a few other folks said ~ though the professional in me “prefers” option 1 for its difference, option 2 seems friendlier. Either way, the size of the subheads makes the most difference in this case.

Richard Gilbert

I love for 1, liking the contrast of the sans serif subhead. But it’s very close.


I like subhead #1.  I like the cleaner fonts, without the little horizontal lines beginning and ending each letter–especially for subheadings. About reading here?  I always read online (never on tablet or phone), and I don’t really have any criticisms.  I love the new scrolling header on the home page, and I like how it feels more open and free now.  Really nice work, I say.   Also–I don’t know for sure, but I’ve continued to get hits on both the Blue Lit site and my own since my guest post the other week–where the first guest post, these ended… Read more »

Shirley Sorbello

#1 is more readable but the contrast with the white makes it seem almost too harsh. #2 is softer and more inviting even if it is a tiny bit harder to read with my older eyes. 


I find that it’s your posts and links on Twitter, based on the heading and topic that draw me to your site. As long as the material is targeted to what I’m interested in, I always tune in. You have some great insight into the field, so it’s nice to read your thoughts.

Steve Bichard

Option 2 seems slightly clearer for my old eye’s. To be honest I also had to read the comments to know what the real differences were.
The advice I have always seen is to keep fonts similar and not too many colours. Your blog is very clean and simple, keep it that way and you cannot go wrong. 

Gail McConnon

As much as I like the idea of using a different type of font to distinguish subheads from general copy, I have to admit I prefer the clean flow you’ve created in Option #2 by using the serif font for both. It just seems to fit better.  The one thing I would change, however, is the copy color. Shades of gray quickly wear out both my patience and my eyes. I’m far more tempted to leave what I’m reading – however valuable it might be – if I have to work at reading it. Black may seem a bit cold… Read more »

Matt Gartland

The only delta is the serif vs sans-serif font for the sub-head, yes? Personally, I prefer the sans-serif subhead with the serif body text.

Jill Barville

The great sans serif vs. serif debate continues. I’d vote for the sans serif heading but here are a couple studies about readability: 


I like number two – looks less muddy, clearer and easier to read for those of us with bad eyesight.


I like #2. #1 is a little heavy compared to the body.


After having spent too many years in clinical laboratory medicine, typing procedure manuals in varying fonts and sizes, I’m not picky about whether the serif is there or not. What matters most is clarity and readability. Either of your subhead choices will deliver those. I do agree that black, rather than dark gray, is the font color of choice. 

Truth to tell, it doesn’t matter to me what font or color you use. I’d read all your stuff anyway, no matter how you presented it. Thanks for all you do! —

Elizabeth Moonrose

I like the second one. As an older person with some loss of vision. I find it easier to read. Thank you for asking for feedback. It proves to me even more than before that you care!

Elizabeth Munroz

Excuse me…. I meant Option 1


#1 is darker and works better on my laptop, iPhone and Kindle Fire. It could be a little sharper, don’t know if that means deeper color or crisper font.

Dawn Herring

I prefer subhead one. I like to open look to the letters. I prefer the space vs. the closed letters. 


I like subhead #2. However, in reality it doesn’t matter because I would read it regardless.  😀


My vote is for subhead 2 because I think it better matches the body font.  Like Jodi, there is not much difference at a quick glance, so there should be nothing lost for not picking #2.

Gene Lempp

Option #2 has a nicer feel to it then the straight forward bold of the first one.


1 is easier to scan. 2 made me slow down.

Susan McNerney

One thing I would note is that the rotating feature stories on the front page are a bit annoying – by the time I digest what the headline says, it moves on, and I accidentally click on the next item. Maybe add 2 seconds to that rotation?

Darrelyn Saloom

My old eyes prefer 1. Gmail’s inbox recently changed to a shade of gray, and I struggle to see it. Can’t wait for the final reveal. 


SUBHEAD OPTION 2  Georgia. The text body is more relaxing for my eye

Ross Lampert

Hi, Jane. I’m with the crowd favoring the serif font for the subheads.

Other feedback: I’m not wild about the Writing on the Ether posts: WAY too much information to absorb at once, especially if I wanted to try to check out even a few, to say nothing of all of the compressed files in the inserted tweets. I just don’t have the time for all of that, so I end up skipping the entire post.

Cynthia Morris

I like the WotE posts but agree they are too much to absorb at once, and then I find I don’t go back. 

Jennifer May Guerra

I prefer Subhead Option #2 because it doesn’t jar me as being not just bold but almost clashing in shape and style with the rest of the text. 

Cynthia Morris

Wow, I’m impressed that you’re gathering feedback on this font level. I go for option #2. I like Georgia. 

I also think those changes are so subtle, and especially with your work, I will always read it and have always found it completely legible, digestible and even actionable! 

Thanks Jane!

John R Worsley

I vote for #1.  I find it easier to read, which probably stems at least in part from the serif/sans serif contrast.


I like option 2 as well. But I see how option 1 is easier to read.

Cat York

Also … very cool image.


I prefer No. 1 – The sans-serif font works better for me for display type. 

PJ Reece

Not sure why, but the second one sticks with the serif font and is less aggressive and no less visible.  Maybe the first one just has too much black ink and it almost seems to bleed. 



The second option, as the leading seems wider between the letters. Aside from your brilliant content, I love your page because it’s so clean, uncluttered. And bless you for making the font size large enough that when I open the page I don’t have to raise it four or five sizes to see what you’ve written.

Thanks for all you do.

Katy Pye

Tameri Etherton

I’m partial to Option 2. I like the font better, it’s more inviting than Option 1. 


I prefer Option I by a hair.