I did some searching and only found older threads that touched on this issue, so I’m looking for some more recent opinions…
I’m fixing some issues in an HTML page created by someone else, and one of the problems is that some bullet characters (shaped like arrows) don’t display correctly in some browsers. In looking at the code, I see that they were put in there as characters using the Wingdings font.
Obviously there are some display issues (Firefox on a Mac displays the arrows as circles with the number 4 in them), so I’m going to swap them out for graphics. But just for my own curiosity and future reference, what is the standard practice for Wingdings? Is it best to simply not use them at all? Or are there cases where it makes sense to use them in HTML?
I personally would never use the wingdings, webdings or any variation font on my web page as I have no idea that the user will have this font installed on their system. Nor do I know if the font is allowed to be used in such a manner legally.
Why would it not be legal to use webdings or wingdings on a website? If it’s illegal to use fonts on a website all us site owners are in serious trouble.
According to research I have checked… Symbol, Webdings, Wingdings & Zapf Dingbats all qualify under the “web-safe fonts” category though as you know there are no gaurantees, generally symbolic fonts don’t tend to be used in web design but I see no reason why they couldn’t be used. As long as you build a proper stack and have something in place for if the font isnt available, you can go ahead and use it.
Well websafe is defined as any font which has a high chance of being available on a clients machine, and as webdings and wingdings are both installed by default on Windows (Wingdings since Win 3.1!!! and Webdings in the “core font’s for the web” so Win98 and MS Office - which also includes mac usage since something like 97) so if any fonts can claim to have a good chance of being on a visitors machine, both of those are as likely to be available as Georgia or Verdana.
I can’t remember for sure, it was some time ago so it might not affect current browsers, but I’ll check on a few later.
However, there are accessibility issues with using non-standard character fonts. If, for example, I want a tick symbol, I can use Wingdings and the letter P. But the chances are that people with mobile phones, screen readers, Braille devices or other forms of AT will, I suspect, have it read as ‘P’. Whereas if you create a small gif or png image of the symbol, you can set alt text to elaborate on what the symbol is, for those people who either don’t have the font installed or are in a browsing environment where it isn’t rendered in the specified font.
You are correct, there are accessibility issues with using symbolic fonts though they are limited alone to screen readers. Problems aside those fonts are still considered websafe though due to their long history of being included with Windows and Office software which at least makes them a consideration.
There’s a word there I strongly disagree with. Non-symbolic fonts will fail for people using any form of interpretive assistive technology, many mobile devices, Opera and Firefox (v2 at least, not sure about v3). I’m sure it used to fail in Netscape as well. That’s way too big a chunk of people getting unintelligible nonsense to consider acceptable!