The next challenge for Web designers, choosing font faces

For years the Internet has challenged those that work on it.

At first it was all about how to get the bits from here to there. Then it was how to link them together and to navigate through them. Then it was about adding media. Next came display ports and fitting well-designed information on them using both text and rich media together. The next big challenge was bandwidth – using it efficiently, increasing it, and making it affordable. And on and on the challenges came and went.

The next challenge for Web designers, according to Jason Santa Maria‘s article on A List Apart titled On Web Typography, will be choosing font faces. Until somewhat recently a Web designer would have to go through some technical fire-circles to use font faces outside of the normal ‘system fonts’ that come standard on every computer in the world. Due to the limited choices, designers haven’t had too much of a challenge about what font to use where.

Not anymore.

Web designers, according to Jason, are going to have to dive into Typography like never before. They will need to learn what font faces go well together, how many to use, how to use weight and selection to invoke certain emotions, etc. He lays out some really great rules to follow in the article but even he admits that his rules are breakable. His point is, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to work hard at this.

Two things excite me about the future of Tyography on the Web. The first is that we’re going to see an explosion of Web sites that incorporate font faces that we haven’t really seen on our screens. You know that feeling you get when you see a really well designed poster, magazine, book, manual, or anything else that is printed thesedays? You’re about to have those same feelings when you look at Web sites. The second is that old school designers, those that got ink on their hands when they started their career, are now the guys that know more than the new guys. The technical hurdles for using non-standard font faces on Web sites have been removed and the creative juices can now begin to flow from even the most non-technical designers. The field is wide open.

In a word, the world of type on the Web is getting interesting.