Web Design 2 – Web Typography

Paint is a classic medium, however the canvas on which the paint is applied can change the appearance of the painting as a whole drastically. A painting on a wood panel and a painting on a tree would not appear the same. The same principle is true when viewing typography in print and on the web. While typography in print allows for much more freedom of creativity, web typography is limited by default fonts and web safe fonts. Typography on the web may never reach the same freedom of choice that is taken for granted in printed material, but in recent years it has made improvements that allow more opportunity for creative choices.

The reason for limitation in variety of web fonts is due to the limitations of code and the inability for every computer to have installed every font that ever existed including fonts that were currently being developed. However now fonts from the internet can be used as long as the site can access them through a link provided in the code. As a safety net for designers, back up fonts can also be written in the code of a site so that if the desired font is unable to be found, there is a second choice of font available and able to be loaded in place of the first choice font.

While there may be more freedom of creative choice when it comes to web fonts these days, terrible use of those fonts still hides in the dusty corners of the internet. Web typography does not conform to all the same rules as print typography. Some of the more irritating hurdles is that of color and type size, which varies depending on browser and screen size. The placement of the type and use of hierarchy are two elements that can work to the advantage or disadvantage of a site depending on how they are used in a given design. Both MatthewCarleton.com and Ovenbits.com are examples of excellent web typography. Hierarchy is shown by the visibility, size, and color of certain titles and phrases. Certain values such as italics are also used to enrich the text when appropriate. On the other hand, sites such as Burlington News and Mama Cheesies use web typography inappropriately. Text is not formatted for the benefit of the reader by mark of the small type size and huge column width.