January 18th, 2009

More new bigger typography

Jason Kottke recently redesigned his popular website, getting rid of the yellows, playing with some funny decoration positioning tricks and changing the typography, making everything considerably larger. The new specified default font size is 16px, roughly the same size as the text you’re reading now and on sites like Wilson Miner’s. Score another one for aging web users whose vision is getting worse with time.

About namedrops his font of choice: “Whitney by Hoefler & Frere-Jones.” This comes through in the design: Whitney is the first font specified in the stylesheet, followed by Myriad Pro, Helvetica, Helvetica Neue, Arial, and then falling back on whatever the designated sans-serif may be.

The site’s unlikely to look like it does on Jason’s computer for more than a couple thousand people, possibly dozens of whom visit his site regularly. For most Mac users and a rare few Windows users, Myriad Pro will be used, followed by Helvetica (for many Windows users and the Mac users still using versions of OS X more than four years old), Helvetica Neue (It’s a rare computer that would have Helvetica Neue installed but not Helvetica or Myriad), Arial (for the remaining Windows users and the Linux users with the Microsoft Core Fonts package installed).

So he’s using some odd font specification rules: The circumstances under which a computer would have Helvetica Neue but not Helvetica are rare at best, and Verdana strikes me as being a closer match to Whitney than Arial is (although the metrics are probably less alike). Linux is accommodated in the breach, but there was room for him to specify Liberation Sans (for something Helvetica-ish) or Vera Sans (for something Arial-ish).