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Design Wise: Font-a-licious

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Choosing a font for your website is a daunting task. Naturally you'd like to stay true to the brand you've created, but forcing your fonts to show up in all web browsers is usually a nightmare in setup and then a constant bandwidth hog for your website.

For a long time already, there have been techniques to force browsers to display your chosen fonts. You could use CSS rules to download a font if the user needed it. Many companies also provide ways to convert your computers font file into a smaller, downloadable website font file. Regardless of the method, as we said, the bandwidth requirements are large.

In order to maintain a branded image with a special font, many websites are forced to convert their headlines into static images. Although they look good, this process completely fails the very important SEO strategy of indicating all headers as H1 and H2 on your pages.

You've probably been disappointed on your own when your web designer told you that special fonts were not realistic to use. Naturally you could specify any font you'd like in a style sheet, but unless the user has that same font on their computer, the beauty of your design and brand will be completely lost.

The simplistic and often recommended font strategy is to select your fonts from a standardized list of fonts most common to all operating systems. If you don't select a specific font for your website's design, the end user's browser will display their default font setting. Default fonts are typically Times New Roman or Arial.

Enter "Lord Google" at www.google.com/webfonts.

A little more than a year ago in May 2010, Google launched their web fonts hosting service. If you take a quick look at that website, you will see many fonts immediately usable on your website by following simple directions and with a little tweaking by your web designer. Fonts are then served from Google instead of niggling away at the bandwidth of your own website.

Before you pop a sugar pill and go crazy with the excitement of unlimited new font choices, you need to first ask yourself how many fonts you want to use on your website. Design is always important and your font choices should complement one another for a pleasing user experience. Before you settle on any font choice, you should consult a design expert and then all the employees in your store.

On a final note, as you look around Google Webfonts, try sorting the fonts by popularity. San serif fonts (those are the fonts without the little tails, e.g. Arial) are easier to read on a computer screen and the current choice by many websites. Stylized fonts for headlines can create interest, but keep it simple and easy-to-read for the general content on your site.
AT: 06/01/2011 12:35:21 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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