Only Two Cross-Browser Web Fonts
If you want to choose fonts that will look similar across most modern browsers you have two choices: Georgia and Verdana. Yeah, there are a few other fonts, such as Times, Arial, Helvetica, etc., that are available on all platforms, but they tend to look really nice on one platform and really crappy in another. Or they look nice in both, but the kerning or the letter height will be different for the exact same font size.
The web is a boring, two-font world.
Here’s the thing though. Georgia and Verdana are really decent screen fonts. For large blocks of body copy, they provide you with a very respectable serif and sans-serif font option. When it comes to titles or navigational elements, however, you often want something that will stand out from the rest of the copy on your page.
Fonts in GIFs: The Old Way
The typical solution is to create your titles and nav buttons in Photoshop, then cut GIF images for placement in the web page. This lets you use any font face you desire, ensures that things look exactly the same in all browsers, and takes an extraordinary amount of extra effort.
If you want to put slick looking titles on your blog posts, this method will probably have you in a big white coat with extra long sleeves before a month is up. Even worse—hey, some of us look good in white—if you’re using images for navigation or titles, the text isn’t selectable, it isn’t search friendly, and it’s probably a nuisance for people who use screen readers to navigate your site.
sIFR: The Better Way
- A normal (X)HTML page is loaded into the browser.
- Once measured, the script creates Flash movies of the same dimensions and overlays them on top of the original elements, pumping the original browser text in as a Flash variable.
- Actionscript inside of each Flash file then draws that text in your chosen typeface at a 6 point size and scales it up until it fits snugly inside the Flash movie.
Seriously? Flash can used to improve web design _and_ promote web standards, accessibility, and indexability… This has been available for a couple of years, but I’m still left scratching my head.