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Brandan Lennox's

Abusing Custom Type on the Web?

Will at Firebelly recently asked a reasonable question:

Does having a choice of typefaces for web typography help or hurt the world?

His concern is that the web will turn into a steaming pile of unreadability once everybody’s site uses whatever fonts they can afford to license. It’s a justifiable concern. Look at MySpace, YouTube, any given freelancer’s blog, and see how the content quality compares to more traditional publishing. Isn’t typography subject to the same sorts of neglect?

Of course! Every technology on the web has the capacity for abuse, and somebody somewhere will design their entire site around 9pt Zapfino and it will be god-awful, but there will certainly be beautiful and thoughtful designs to maintain the balance. There are plenty of techniques today for displaying custom fonts on the web. Things are okay(-ish). Designers will still have to live within the bounds of taste, even if the bounds of technology have loosened a bit. The people who cobble together a complete disarray of typefaces and shove it through FrontPage were going to do a shit job anyway.

To me as a developer, the best thing about @font-face is native browser support: no more hacky image replacement techniques (for those that could be bothered to use them), dependence on plugins like Flash, or anything beyond the Trinity of HTML, CSS, and JS. It’s not totally feasible yet, but I’ll be happy to remove the task of font rendering from my processes as a developer and place it on the browser/OS. In fact, the people writing the code may benefit the most from widespread adoption of @font-face, and that’s totally fine by me.