Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fonts on the Web

I was doing some preliminary work on a web project that I have had planned for quite some time now, when I was wondering about the use of different fonts on the web. My findings were quite interesting (in my opinion, at least), so I decided to share them with the (part of the) world (that happens to read my blog).

First, let's give some context, though. This is a web project I have had in my mind for quite some time and though I have owned the domain name for it for a while now, it was just the webhosts standard page until now. I have tons of ideas in my head, but I haven't started implementing them quite yet. All I have done is make a simple (static) homepage for the site. The thing is, though, that I wanted this website to have a layout that resembles something that I might actually use for the website.

One of the things I did look into was the logo for the website. Or, actually the name. No, I can't pin it down to one of the two. It's both. It's something in between. An idea that I came up with recently was to use the name (which I had decided on quite some time ago) and some other chatacters to make a "logo" that can be typed. It also has a shorthand that is the same thing with the name replaced by the first letter. Honestly, I think this could have a really good effect on publicity and the way you generally handle referring to the website. It also had a number of additions for different parts of the website and all together, I think I created a pretty sttrong system with that.

Anyway, for this to work I needed a font to display the "logo" in. It didn't have to be too fancy, but it had to give some character to the whole thing. I ended up with a font after spending some time on different sites looking for fonts. Once there, though, I wanted to spend more time doing this and wanted to go looking for more fonts. As I wondered whether to go for a serif font or a sans serif font, I scouted the internet for an answer to that question.

First off, I read some articles on the matter. They weren't too clear and they said that the web trend was to go for sans serif, but also mentioned that you shouldn't be afraid to use serif fonts either. One of the articles I found actually came to the conclusion that differences (in readability) were bigger within different fonts of a single type than in general between the two types of fonts.

So, then I decided to go looking on some of the bigger sites what fonts they used. The interesting thing about this was that there wasn't just a simple division to make in serif and sans serif, but there was even a simple trend about fonts.

The reigning font is clearly Arial. It needs to be downsized as it is too big, but you basically can't go anywhere on the web without seeing Arial (you might end up seeing something else if you don't use Windows, but let's just forget about that for a moment). However, I did also find some uses of a serif font on some of the busiest places on the web. All of them were consistently Georgia. And what's more, while many website use nothing but Arial, Georgia was usually used in one or two places on a website using mostly Arial. Oh, and if there was italic text on such a website, it was more likely to be the Georgia text than Arial text.

Of course, this has been influenced largely by the fact that the web just doesn't have too many fonts to work with. However, it also says something about how the big websites aren't using font embedding just yet. And besides, even if there was little to work with, I think it still says a lot that from the couple of fonts we had, we are working with only one and using one other to compliment it from time to time.

In the end I decided to go with the masses and use Arial for my main text. Of course, I did have the font for my "logo" and I want to do a trick where whenever the site is named (with the other characters there as well) the same font will be used. I also did go for a different font for the headings on my website. Between the two fonts, I think I clearly instilled some character into the website.

(Oh, and before anyone asks, the project now has a spot on the web, so it is now possible for me to link to it. However, I am still not going to do so, because it is nothing but a single page. Perhaps in the future, when the project really takes off I'll link to it...)

No comments: