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  1. #1
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    Arrow What does each font say to you?

    Hi -

    I'm about to redesign my entire site and now have the option of using a different font than my standar "arial size 10" that I've been using.

    Just wanted to know how you as a designer decide what font style and size to use for each site you design. What does arial say/mean to you? What about verdana? What are some other common, good ones to consider? Does one font say "professional" while another says "fun", etc.

    I run a community site for actors.

    Thanks for any input.

    Josh

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    applying the spf lotion V + E + R + T's Avatar
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    Do you mean "content" fonts? As in fonts not used for designing graphics, just purely for a content basis?

    If so, I prefer Arial/Verdana/Sans-Serif and occasionally Times New Roman. Tests have shown results that people are more comfortable and can read faster using those specific fonts.

    As an alternative, I would avoid "funky" fonts-- These take away the professionalism, imo.
    Proud SPF member since 2001!

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    Cult Space-Monkey Impulse's Avatar
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    Any sans-serif font would be best on your website - I typically stay away from any serif font because they tend to look bad, and are surprisingly less legible (ex. Times New Roman). My favorites are Tahoma, and Verdana.
    kyle//at//retorikmedia//dot//com

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    verdana/arial suitable for website
    times new roman for printing

    in term of readability

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    Interesting replies!

    So is it true that most web sites content is arial or verdana? Isn't Tahoma similar in look to verdana?

    If I wanted to get a bit more creative, I can decide to use verdana, for example, but then make the color something other than black, right? What's a good verdana size, 10? 11?

    I always prefered arial over verdana because it looks 'cleaner' to me.

    Can I find a list of the most common fonts that will create across the board usability for my visitors?

    Josh

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    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Impulse
    Any sans-serif font would be best on your website - I typically stay away from any serif font because they tend to look bad, and are surprisingly less legible (ex. Times New Roman).
    Depends, I've also read that serif fonts are more legible because the eye catches the tails and the brain does more pattern recognition. The "better readability" of arial etc is a bit overblown (find the thread on the recent "test" of all styles, it didn't seem that conclusive to me).

    It's more a matter of taste, context, and audience.

    There's nothing wrong with Times when its used properly, with good spacing and sizing, and layout considerations.

    Arial/Verdana are very plain, and can resemble big Fischer Price toy fonts when improperly used. They have no soul or character, but at small sizes they are optimal. It's their lack of style that makes them appear highly readable.

    They're the "default" that everyone uses, and that should be taken into consideration for your site identity if that's important to you. Consider how it would feel for your users--most likely used to the Arial/Verd combo--when they first lay eyes on your choice. Do you want to make them feel like your place is different, or of the same ilk? What's your competition using, and do you need to join them on their level, in the sense of making your site a serious player in their game (which may be helpful for small sites starting out), or do you want to stand apart? Either way could benefit or harm your site's perception in the users' eyes, figuratively or literally.

    I think it also depends on the content. You'll convey a more modern, techy feel when using certain sans fonts, versus a bit of a classier, timeless feel of a serif. Somtimes I look at it like this: Arial/Verd/Sans gives the impression of being in a hurry, while Times/Georg/Serif is more relaxed. Since my site's going to be dedicated to fiction/lit readers, there will be a lot of serif for content, and some smaller sans (arial or tahoma ) where appropriate (some headers, small text "boxes", etc.).
    Last edited by Arkham; Aug 29, 2002 at 06:51.

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    Wow very interesting points, Arkham! I like the point of what are my competitors using and also do I want to "stand out" or make my visitors feel that my site is "different." I think I'd like to go the "different" route. So according to your theories, which fonts should I look into?

    Again, is there a place where I can view all the common font styles used??

    Thanks.

    Josh

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    Cult Space-Monkey Impulse's Avatar
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    Fonts: Serif vs. Sans serif

    Hi Tog,

    Have you noticed that MOST, if not ALL, big websites these days use sans serif fonts? Especially the corporate ones. There seems to be some big, unwritten rule among website designers that serif fonts are to be avoided at all costs.

    I have always believed that serif fonts are easier to read—not only on paper, but on screen as well. I should think the embellishments to a character, besides making it look prettier, also make it easier to be recognized by the brain since there are more data points per character. Is this not true? Why do you think websites aren't simply designed for the default font?

    Why does Microsoft think the new Verdana font designed for the web should be "stripped of features redundant when applied to the screen"?

    It just seems there are too many threadbare, ugly chunks of text out there these days.

    —Raj Premkumar

    While I think the argument that a font or any other interface feature should be "stripped of features redundant" is specious, I have learned since first taking the position that sans serif fonts are bad, that a special case exists when said redundances are so badly distorted as to be unrecognizable.

    Such, I am informed, is the case with serifs on today's crude screens. Two font designers who have worked both in the world of newspapers and computers, Vlad V. Golovach and George Olsen, have taken the time to explain to me in exhaustive detail exactly why serifs don't work on low-resolution computer displays whereas they do in newspapers which, while notoriously bad, don't hold a candle to the crudeness of computer screens. (A third writer from UCLA, who shall remain nameless, seemed to share their opinion, but only imparted the direct information that I am a fool. This seemed only tangentially relevant and was, in any case, stale news.)

    These arguments have caused me to reverse my previous "serifs at all costs!" position until such time as we have high-resolution displays, at which point I will be back out in front of the serif parade once more.

    (Grasping at straws, I was even prepared to put forth the argument that the muddying effect of seris could be offset by anti-aliasing the font. But anti-aliasing softens the edges, and soft edges definitely reduce readability.)

    I would really like to see someone to do some serious large-scale studies of relative readability of various fonts, serif and sans, and then I would like to see those results codified in the form of standard, cross-platform, high-readability fonts. In the meantime, I'm concluding my discussion of fonts.
    That was taken from
    http://www.asktog.com/readerMail/200...l.html#Anchor8

    If you want to read some more reasons why sans-serif should be used instead of serif just do a search 'sans-serif vs. serif' on google.
    kyle//at//retorikmedia//dot//com

  9. #9
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by JCary
    Wow very interesting points, Arkham! I like the point of what are my competitors using and also do I want to "stand out" or make my visitors feel that my site is "different." I think I'd like to go the "different" route. So according to your theories, which fonts should I look into?
    You can still be different while using the exact same fonts as everyone else, but it's a consideration. The layout and design are more important (font balance, letter/line spacing, size; placement, scrolling, text flow...) But your font choice can play a big part in that. Everything's interconnected.

    I think I'd have to know more about the site to give any sort of opinion. But...

    For most sites, plain old Arial works fine. People are so used to it that they don't notice it, but when it's not there, the replacement will stick out. You could use that to your advantage.

    I personally don't like the look of Verdana and Tahoma, they're too fat and squat. (see: Fischer Price, or those wooden letter blocks in your old toybox.)

    If you want to provide a link or more information about the site, we could probably give you some more specific ideas, but it sounds like you know what you're doing. Trust your eyes. The first thing I'd do is make up example pages in every font you're considering.

    Again, is there a place where I can view all the common font styles used??
    Geez, I wish i could remember. There was a link floating around here a while ago that led to a page that showed all the installed Microsoft fonts, per Windows release, with examples. It also served to identify which you actually had installed on your machine. I'm sorry I can't recall... Try searching the forums or look on Google. If I can find it later I'll post it. I will make an effort to find it though. It wasn't too long ago.

    Cheers

  10. #10
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Impulse


    That was taken from
    http://www.asktog.com/readerMail/200...l.html#Anchor8
    And such opinions should be taken with a grain of salt when applied to a specific case.

    Even the almighty Tog waffles a bit on the issue there. Come on, there is no need to conform to this idea that serifs "should not" be used. It's ludicrous to insist that it's a black and white issue that must be applied to all cases.

    Talk about the death of design...

    If you want to read some more reasons why sans-serif should be used instead of serif just do a search 'sans-serif vs. serif' on google.
    Where you can also find reasons why the earth is flat, Charleston Heston is god, and Uri Geller is not a leather-skinned conman.

    Everything in its place... There's room for both, and enough opinions to heat the Internet forever.
    Last edited by Arkham; Aug 29, 2002 at 07:56.

  11. #11
    Cult Space-Monkey Impulse's Avatar
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    I personally agree with him that serif fonts look very poor on lower resolutions and are therefore severely limit the usability of your site. I wasn't trying to say that they should NEVER be used, but for now sans-serif is probably your best bet. Design goes hand-in-hand with usability, you can't have one and not the other and pretend that the fact that it looks good or is revolutionary makes up for it.

    Where you can also find reasons why the earth is flat, Charleston Heston is god, and Uri Geller is not a leather-skinned conman.
    Now now, this is no place to bring up my dispute that the bible was indeed written about Charleston Heston.
    Last edited by Impulse; Aug 29, 2002 at 08:00.
    kyle//at//retorikmedia//dot//com

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    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Impulse
    I personally agree with him that serif fonts look very poor on lower resolutions and are therefore severely limit the usability of your site. I wasn't trying to say that they should NEVER be used, but for now sans-serif is probably your best bet. Design goes hand-in-hand with usability, you can't have one and not the other and pretend that the fact that it looks good or is revolutionary makes up for it.
    Agreed, but a decently balanced design using Times is fine. For the most part, people are just not used to seeing Times on the net in as much abundance as Arial has today. This influences opinions too.

    A note on "Low resolution": In articles like this, when designers mention "low resolution" they are not talking about 640x400, 800x600, or any specific computer "resolution" -- they're talking about computer monitors generally. These things are considered "low resolution" in comparison to high resolution print.

  13. #13
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Impulse

    Now now, this is no place to bring up my dispute that the bible was indeed written about Charleston Heston.
    Bahaha... Imagine that. Moses about to turn his "Great M60" into a snake and says, "Nah, screw it." *CHUKA-CHUKA-CHUKA-CHUKA!* "Okey, you people are free now, move along."

  14. #14
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    JCary:

    BTW, look at Impulse's site for a great example of how good Verdana can look when used well.

    Arial and Verdana are really well-suited to tech-related sites.

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    Cult Space-Monkey Impulse's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Arkham


    Agreed, but a decently balanced design using Times is fine. For the most part, people are just not used to seeing Times on the net in as much abundance as Arial has today. This influences opinions too.
    Don't you remember when everyones personal website used Times New Roman? Something like this http://geocities.com/willig_40/ ? Everyone already used the serif fonts - then they got over it and started on sans-serif

    Originally posted by Arkham


    A note on "Low resolution": In articles like this, when designers mention "low resolution" they are not talking about 640x400, 800x600, or any specific computer "resolution" -- they're talking about computer monitors generally. These things are considered "low resolution" in comparison to high resolution print.
    I stand corrected - maybe I just think it looks bad in general but worse when I can see it bigger
    kyle//at//retorikmedia//dot//com

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    Cult Space-Monkey Impulse's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Arkham

    BTW, look at Impulse's site for a great example of how good Verdana can look when used well.
    Thanks That sites actually undergoing a rebranding... but yes back on topic.
    kyle//at//retorikmedia//dot//com

  17. #17
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Jcary:

    These might not be that helpful, but they're good reference. There are better pages than these out there, but you get the idea.


    Installed Font Examples

    TrueType fonts installed by Windows


    cheers

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/u...ws/3S/font.htm
    Its a little old, but provides an interesting perspective on which fonts are "better".
    and the follow up article on font size/ font legibility
    http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/u...onlinetext.htm
    Last edited by iTec; Aug 29, 2002 at 08:33.

  19. #19
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Impulse


    Don't you remember when everyones personal website used Times New Roman? Something like this http://geocities.com/willig_40/ ? Everyone already used the serif fonts - then they got over it and started on sans-serif
    Haha, yeah I know, that's why I worded it: "...in as much abundance as Arial has today." Man, back then I forced Helvetica in my browser instead. (Amiga)

    The problem was the age of web "design" back then, not Times. Poor spacing, sizing, layout, were the biggest problems. Now we have more tools (i.e. CSS), and choices (font faces) to balance things out.

    I stand corrected - maybe I just think it looks bad in general but worse when I can see it bigger
    Oh, no sorry, I wasn't correcting anyone. It's just something I read last year (on the old WebReview.com site). I was just *assuming* that's what they meant in this context as well.

  20. #20
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by iTec
    http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/u...ws/3S/font.htm
    Its a little old, but provides an interesting perspective on which fonts are "better".
    Yeah, that's the one I meant. There was a thread on it here a while ago.

    (Note from the article "...we were interested in the subjective reactions associated with specific font types.")

    I didn't find the "study" to be very conclusive, or the methodolgy professional. From what I remember it didn't consider font familiarity, which is an oft-overlooked, major factor.

    But on a broader level it was interesting reading. There's lots there to consider.

  21. #21
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    So I jump into the shower and have a ton of replies! Thanks all!

    I like those last few links from pychology.wichita.edu site. That may have sold me on Tahoma. That's not a mac-only font is it??

    Thanks for the great leads.

    Josh

  22. #22
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by JCary
    So I jump into the shower and have a ton of replies! Thanks all!

    I like those last few links from pychology.wichita.edu site. That may have sold me on Tahoma. That's not a mac-only font is it??

    Thanks for the great leads.
    I wouldn't take those as gospel (unless that damn Heston's involved), but they're valuable for consideration.

    Tahoma's appears to be primarily a Windows font, but it's also available on the Mac.


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