“Are webfonts for me?”
The emergence of real typography on the web will have a greater impact on the working lives of some designers than others.
Web designers and developers — and everyone in between — use webfonts to create websites built around live, dynamic, accessible content, while still being able to create the attention-grabbing headlines, sophisticated hierarchies and distinctive, individual styles previously only possible with static images or restrictive software workarounds.
The traditional print-and-page-educated designers among you will welcome a swing back to the values you left school with. Web designers, long resigned to a limited palette of users’ system fonts, are anticipating greater expressive flexibility. Branding agencies will no doubt envisage even deeper and more comprehensive style guide programs. And no one has to make concessions to accessibility standards or search optimization interests anymore.
We’re expecting a lot of interest in using webfonts for setting long passages of text for better on-screen legibility. However, this is a debate a long way from being settled (if at all; we reckon it will always be a subjective question shaped by taste and habit as much as by science and psychology). We warn our users to not expect too much at this early stage.
Research the topic well (we’ve compiled a further reading list to get you started) and test your choices thoroughly on different machines and with a variety of potential users, a concept already familiar to web designers used to getting their designs working on multiple platforms. The established standards already work well, but the playing field is opening up. Steer clear of the assumption that what has worked well on paper will also work on screen, and you’re on the right path to specifying good online typography.