Slightly different question regarding typography usage. I am designing a website for a college organization and am playing it safe (and sadly: cheap) by sticking to a few web safe fonts.
But I'd prefer not to.
I got it in my head to select typefaces based on a slightly "different" lowest common denominator. As opposed to the typical Georgia-Verdana-Arial fanfare I'm to understand that the Mac OS X and Windows all come with specific default typefaces to their name. Just as well: since this is a college campus, you can imagine that Microsoft's Office '07/'10 is rather popular in these parts, so that opens the selection to more than just the 10 or so web safe typefaces.
But I've never seen anyone approach web design in this fashion. It's always a one shoes fits all approach and I was curious: are there anythings to be worried about in designing a website with two, perhaps three different levels of typeface choice? I always was under the impression that people just ordered their fonts in the font-family attribute without thinking too much.
Nope, that's not the case at all... many web designers put a LOT of effort into picking fonts. I myself always pick typefaces based on the font family model of degrading gracefully. First you have the typeface you would love to use (if any were available - websafe or not), then you have one to fall back on (perhaps in this case Mac uses a different variant than Windows), then you have a general fall-back or websafe font (that looks closest to the one you've chosen or that looks equally fine), and finally you have the family type (like serif) for when all else fails. Do a Google search for font stacks and you would be amazed at how many articles of complexity exist on the subject. Even on the matter of web-safe fonts, there's plenty of material discussing the details.