Do we need more font selection on the internet?

That would be nice, but a handful of good fonts in the hands of a competent designer can go a long way.

Permalink by:Kasey Kelly Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 View Comments

KKellyDesign.com just got a makeover. The last version of this site was fine, but the flexible layout was too much of a free-for-all, and was sorely lacking when it came to a typographical grid structure. First and foremost with this version, I wanted to flex my web typography muscles. Which leads me to this post.

Univers font familyI remember my first Graphic Design class…

It was with Chris Hoot at the University of Akron in the Fall of 2000. For the very first assignment, he said that we were only going to use one font, in one ink color, for the majority of the semester. My classmates and I were surprised, and I began preparing myself for a boring, creativity-stifling semester. What was so great about this "Univers" font family anyway? It looked just like Helvetica to me…

Until I began to push my limits. I met my adversary in that font. It was plain. It didn't say anything. I actually had to use position, scale, contrast, and negative space to make the word "bounce" look like it was bouncing and "turmoil" look tumultuous. I actually had to start designing. This whole "graphic design" business was apparently more than just learning how to use photoshop filters. Who knew?

Fast forward a few years, and Univers is one of my favorite fonts. It is similar to Helvetica in its simplicity, but it is slightly more heavy-handed and boxy. That makes it ideal for small printing sizes or knockout use. And the Black version (ahem, Servee logo) is about as heavy as heavy comes.

The best part about Univers and many other clean, concise typefaces is that they don't say anything on their own. They have to be told – manipulated – designed – to say what is intended. Just try to make Copperplate say something other than "Law firm", or Papyrus say something other than "African Safari."

There's a time and a place for all of these extra fonts. I actually have used Papyrus to help me convey "African Safari." It certainly doesn't hurt to let your font selections help you get your message across. And for that reason, I concede that some more font choices would be a good idea. However, a lot can be done with the options we already have.

Sadly, Univers isn't on the list of acceptable web fonts. Lucida Grande and Georgia are, however, which are fine alternatives for my purposes with this site. My actual content is the primary focus. It isn't lost in a sea of glossy buttons and bright colors. Hopefully the design hints at the credibility of my message and provides a pleasant backdrop to my portfolio. That's the goal. I don't like to yell. Unless of course... I'm yelling with Univers Black.

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