Font Dilemma

I’m developing a site for a client whose logo is set in Arial.

I’m not contracted to redesign their logo - their branding, main website, merchandise, etc, is well established already.

So what do I do with the typography on this site? Go for consistency and set it all in Arial, even for Macs? Find a complement font to Arial for the body text?

I really want to do a nice job on this, but it’s a difficult place to start from.

I think this will be a matter of opinion rather than having a hard and fast answer, but I would be really interested to hear what people think,


Meh, Arial’s fine, IMHO. If your focus is on useful, well ordered content, fonts and decorations won’t trouble you so much. [Runs for cover. :smiley: ]

If their existing branding is in Arial then I would stick with that for the rest of the website, it would look odd if you used anything different (and I say that as someone who really doesn’t like Arial). Helvetica is widely used on Macs and is more or less the same as Arial.

Off Topic:

Personally, I think Arial looks much nicer than Helvetica on Mac.

Use Arial.

  1. As a Mac user I will tel you Arial (and Arial Black)has been present with the system install for as long as I can remember, maybe even back in the pre OSX days.
  2. As an Art Director am either going to look for similarity or contrast in content typography. In other words I either going to use a font that is as far from Arial as possible ( perhaps even…gasp… a serif font) or use something in the Arial family itself ( see above).
  3. As a Web Designer, I understand the concept of graceful degradation. Maybe some zealots Took Arial out of their system install. Maybe the took out Helvetica as well. A font stack represents a compromise not an expectation. (However , do try to pick fonts with the same style, x-height, and em width as much as possible as opposed to just matching the ‘look’, contrast is not necessarily bad (see 2 above)).
  4. There is no accounting for taste. In this situation the client could end up saying … but “we have always used Arial for everything” perhaps out of lack of of knowledge of consideration for typography on their part. Forcing you to expand your role in aesthetic design and marketing to counter or accept or even just explain and analyze typography considerations for your client.
  5. As business man there are boundaries I would have to set. You are developing the site. You stated you weren’t the site designer… or their art director or marketing guy . Why even THINK of redesign the logo??? I would figure They may or may not have already built a brand based on that mark. Even if the client intends to have the logo OR the website designed (graphically) are they paying you to do so? Soyou stand to gain nothing but lose a lot or worse maybe they expected you to do that for nothing. If you think they have a right to that expectation, why shouldn’t they (or other clients) expect you to register a domain name or host the site at no cost to them as well? Draw boundaries early on.

Okay, let me give an alternate opinion. :slight_smile:

Arial is the plain vanilla of fonts. In your design, you don’t want to stray too far afield from the cool, minimalist, “Danish Modern” :lol: feel it imparts in its use (this has all been said, and more, about Arial’s older sibling Helvetica), but there’s no reason you can’t work with it in a slightly more varied fashion. There’s nothing wrong with using a similar-but-different sans-serif font (say, Lucida Sans or Segoe UI, maybe even Tahoma) or a boldly different serif font that still imparts that cool, minimalist look and feel. A fantasy font, say, or a slab serif would not work at all with the Arial logo.

What Arial is doing, like any font, is setting a tone. Stick with that tone in your font choices, whether you go for strict similarity or something quite different.