Upgrading Designs

Published 17 years, 5 months past

The Amaya team has recently said they’re very willing to accept contributions of redesigned icons and color choices for the browser.  So those of you with talent in that area, get to it!  Since the WThRemix contest closes today, you should have plenty of time to devote to Amaya, right?  Right?  Right.

I recently had a very interesting conversation with Ian Hickson about fonts and font-sizing.  Both of us have thought a lot about fonts in CSS and Web typography over the years, but I think we both realized that we had more thinking to do.  When you get right down to it, there is no good solution regarding font sizing on the Web today.  Every authorial choice has a drawback for some visitors, and every choice has a lot of benefits.  Pixels penalize high-resolution visitors who can’t (or won’t) use text zooming.  Percentages and ems can penalize visitors who have changed their default font size.  Leaving the text at user default looks stupidly big for visitors who haven’t changed their default font size.

It doesn’t help matters that there are huge differences in how serif and sans-serif fonts look at the same value of font-size, and that the commonly-available fonts on the Web today are not suitable for really nice typography.  I know some people think typography isn’t something we need to worry about, but it’s critical to good visual design and our current capabilites are laughably crude.  In fiddling with some test pages, I rapidly came to the conclusion that there just isn’t a good answer.  I’m not entirely thrilled with how this site’s typography is handled, for example, but I was even less thrilled by the other approaches I tested.

Is waiting for a downloadable-font mechanism our only hope?  I wish there were another answer, but right now, I don’t see one.  It seems we’ll have to accept and work with what little typographic control we have, and cede the rest of our textual desires to future improvements in both specifications and the browsers that implement them.

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