Why it’s a bad idea to use text in background images

Image with the "world's most famous man" meme.  The text says "I don't always fail at cropping, but when I do..." with an unreadable last line because the photo is badly cropped.

This is an awesome meme (the text at the bottom is intentionally cut off.) It nicely illustrates why including text on background images is a bad idea. Because background images get cropped as the screen changes sizes. On particularly small screens, the background image may also shrink too far to be readable. (This readability issue on small screens is a problem even for normal images with overlaid text.)

Also text in images isn’t accessible to visually impaired people, to screen readers, or to Google and other search engines. (Search engines are by far the largest “visually impaired” site visitors on the planet!)

Bottom line is whenever possible, leave text out of your images and overlay them with readable text instead.

(Note: I’m sorry I can’t find the original author of this meme so I can give them credit. I’ll update if I can find them.)

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David Innes, RealBasics.com

I've been building and maintaining websites since 1997 and building and supporting similar hypertext-driven software since 1987. I've done maintenance, support, and maintenance for physical and digital systems since 1981. And no, I still haven't seen it all but by now I usually know where to look. More about David Innes...