What are “Web-Safe” fonts?

Advertising and information distribution on the Internet is a natural extension of print media. When you're printing an advertisement or a news item, you have a great deal of flexibility in terms of font. Any size, any style, any color or background style - the only limits are your imagination and the size of the page. Web pages are often considered as being no different than a page of printed media, but there are a lot of web browsers out there and that can dramatically impact how your site is going to appear to the end user. Therefore, when selecting fonts for your site, you need to consider what are called "web-safe" fonts.

Computer systems vary from user to user, and browsers can vary from computer to computer. This means that, unlike the relatively common set of eyeballs people have that allow them to take in printed advertisements and information, the end result of a web page might appear differently on your computer than it does on the monitor of someone sitting right next to you, to say nothing of potential customers on the other side of the globe. Thankfully, there are some fonts that are most likely to exist on computer systems regardless of manufacturer or operating system. Here are a few examples of web-safe fonts to keep in mind when considering the design of your website.

Sans-serif fonts, like Arial and Helvetica, tend to be easier to read in a digital medium. The lack of embellishing on the individual letters makes the difference. They're also very common on computer systems the world over, and thus virtually guarantee the preservation of your design scheme when used. For a page more in the style of print media, consider using a serif font such as Times New Roman or Georgia. The letters look a bit fancier, and like Arial & Helvetica, are common between different operating systems. Finally, for a no-nonsense or minimalist look, consider Courier New. A 'monospace' or unembellished font, it invokes the older feeling of computer terminals and typewriters. There are other web-safe fonts available, but these five are the most common and most versatile.

When considering or discussing the design of your site, it's important to keep the end user in mind. While search engine optimization might get them to your site, what will keep them there? The more pleasant and stress-free their experience, the more likely they are to stay, come back and tell their friends to visit. Web-safe fonts are a crucial yet often overlooked factor in this equation. It's something we always keep in mind here at IQnection. If you have an idea for your site, or if an existing page needs a little sprucing up, we'll not only keep web-safe fonts in mind, we'll also work with you to get the look and feel that you want as well as aiming your content at the end user so you get the most from your investment.