June 05, 2017

NetMag Exchange: Practical Advice From Industry Experts

Dan answered NetMag’s “Question of the Month:” What’s your ‘go-to’ font for web design? Here’s what he had to say:

“It might sound boring, but I gravitate towards Helvetica and Georgia, which are still very beautiful options when treated with sensitivity. These two are classic typefaces that perform well on screen and have the advantage of being highly available, web-safe fonts.

When I’m looking for a face that has a bit more personality but is just as versatile, I tend to choose Montserrat (available through Google Fonts), which has been a workhorse and personal favorite for a while now. It’s a well-designed geometric sans that works nicely at both large and small sizes, tracked out or tightened up, all-caps or sentence case, ultra-light or extra-bold.”

He also discussed variable fonts and whether they’re an over-engineering of a small problem:

“Absolutely not! Today, designers are forced to make compromises that balance the use of web fonts and performance. Let’s say you want to use regular, italic, bold and bold italic for two fonts. You’d be forcing the user to download around 1MB in font files and make four network requests, which negatively affects performance and thus user experience. Variable fonts are an impressive technical leap forward. A variable font bundles all weights and variations of a font into a single file, while promising reduced file size and allowing the typographer to customize the typeface for different displays. That makes for a better reading experience, fewer design compromises and better performance. Hard to argue with that.”

And finally, why Comic Sans is so frowned upon:

“Type is the most powerful tool in a designer’s toolbox so it stings when we see it used inappropriately. Imagine a bank’s website in Comic Sans – it’d be hard to take them seriously. The problem traces back to the dawn of desktop publishing. Since computers made design decisions like changing fonts incredibly easy, non-designers misused the power. As Comic Sans was in Windows 95, it became one of the first widely misused and most maligned typefaces in the world.”