Is Your Font Safe For The Web?When designing a website and choosing a typeface it is important to know what you are seeing might not be exactly what someone on another browser will be seeing. This is because browsers handle web pages in different ways and people have different operating systems and programs installed. We need to be confident in the knowledge that your chosen font will be easy to read and displayed to fit in with the style of the website.
Safe for Web FontsThe most important piece of information to remember when choosing a font to use on the web is that not every computer will have the same fonts installed. I'm not just talking about an obscure font that you have installed for a specific project. Macs and Windows PC's have different font's installed from new and some Windows fonts just don't exist on a Mac. Also one of the main reasons font's differ is down to people having programs such as Microsoft Office installed which comes with a bundle of new fonts... again some people won't have Office so we need to be careful in our decisions as designers for the web.
Why not just use Graphics?
We could create text graphics for our website however having the text within a graphic means it won't be visible to search engines which defeat the most common reason everyone has a website which is to get found and share information.
That being said graphics can make up a very important part of the visual experience for clients and if they have a custom font that is used for their logo then it needs to be used. The main message is to make sure you don't rely on text within graphics.
Safe for Web Fonts using CSS
There are quite a few websites that offer advice on safe to use fonts and they usually show percentages of the likely hood that it will be installed on a PC or Mac such as this article: 8 Fonts you probably don't use
. This information is indeed useful however; we can go one step further and be extra safe using font stacks.
What is a Font Stack?
Font Stacks are common in CSS and are a vital way of making sure the users experience is as close to your desired style as possible. Font stacking allows you to set fonts with a failsafe if your desired font is not available on that persons computer.
A common stack can be like the example below:
Arial, “Helvetica Neue”, Helvetica, sans-serif
We start off with the font we'd like to be shown and then we make arrangements for fonts to fall back on. As you can see this stack ends on a sans-serif font. This is the safest way as if the person didn't have the previous Arial, Helvetica Neue or Helvetica installed then their computer will still choose a font that represents your original style rather than a serif font that wouldn't match so well.
The website below has further information on font stacks and percentages:CSS Safe for Web Font Stacks
Google Web Font
A relatively new way of safely using custom fonts has been introduced by Google. You can reference a font in your CSS that is hosted online by Google and has been created especially to display on websites.
The original method of this technique was called "Cufon" however using the Cufon process meant you had to follow a few more technical steps and have access to the font you wanted on your computer so that you could upload it via their system and create the necessary files.
The way Google has created and simplified this technique is excellent. Another advantage with using Googles system as opposed to any other is that it shows you the expected additional load on a page and makes recommendations on the amount of custom fonts that should be used... not to mention you know Google are going to be around for the long haul.Google Web Fonts - Safe for Web
If you'd like to speak to a Griffen Mill Pixel Factory designer, please go to our Contact Page for more information about how we work.
Latest on Twitter
We haven't set up our own Twitter account yet, so in the meantime why not take a look at what our strategic partner WebHealer is up to.
Last month we completed the redesign of all administration pages behind the PHD Interactive system. This has been an ongoing process over the last couple of years, as most of the pages have had a significant functionality upgrade as well as cosmetic/usability improvements. The last page to get a makeover with the new black background look is the Visitor Statistics page depicted, which we improved with a new dynamic chart to replace the clunky old bar chart. The database guys at PHD Interactive also did a fantastic job providing a lot more data for analysis than had previously been available so overall this is something we're all proud of. This page is in beta test with customers of WebHealer at present and will be available to all within a month.
Recent Client Work
I consulted James for an update and a revamp of my professional website as a counsellor and psychotherapist. In the past three years I have been developing my skills as an artist and integrating this into my formal work, so I wished to include some of my art into the website as a gallery. The text and the layout of the website has been organically co-created along the way between James and myself. The process has taken some time because I wanted to ensure the overall affect and the sense of the visual impact on the senses and emotional responses to this were inviting and alive. The outcome has been gradual yet dynamic. Integrated into the website are many quotes that have come to be of psycho-spiritual value to me over the years. There is included in this a quote expressed from the artist /therapist who has worked closely with me in developing my own unique and organic skills /gifts as an artist /therapist, Jaime Cahlil. The overall impact is I believe truly beautiful and it stands alone to invite the reader into the space. This of itself brings a sense of calmness and wholeness; which may extend to inviting those in distress to discover and to explore more their own seeking and desire for wholeness and healing. I hope that others also experience this too. See full case study