Back on 2/24/2012 we examined emerging standards for web font sizes and it was a surprise to some folks that using 16px (or approx. 1em) for standard body font was recommended. Nonetheless, it is still surprising to encounter so many performing arts org websites that rely on 12px standards.
All of the following screencaps were taken on 5/23/2013 and are from the first four orchestra websites that came to mind. Each one had a standard body font of 11px or 12px and even though I knew a number of orchestra websites were using tiny font sizes, it was still surprising to see 100 percent of the initial sampling fall into that category.
But when it comes to readability and overall favorable user experiences, those are dangerously small sizes (details for why are in the 2012 article). Recent studies indicate that 16px is most common with 14px not far behind, but even 18px is used twice as much over 12px.
There’s No Better Time Than The Present
In an ideal arrangement, you already have direct control over typography settings such as the font size for body text and headlines and can, therefore, begin experimenting with sizing up and out of the 12px pit.
If you don’t, you need to begin working on your web provider to get this change going. If they make the task sound like moving mountains then it’s high time to consider finding a new provider.
Simply put, you aren’t going to catch up by going slower and web standards change at an increasing pace so you need to be in a position to have enough flexibility and control to make changes as needed.
For more on this topic, head over to Jan Constantin’s excellent case study article, Typographic Design Patterns And Current Practices (2013 Edition), at SmashingMagazine.com where you’ll find a wealth of additional info on trends for headlines, typefaces, line heights, and a bevy of additional typographic treats.