August 2007 Archives — Broken Links Archive

The web needs more & better fonts

Aesthetics also provide a strong argument for web fonts. There are many beautiful and interesting fonts that can improve aesthetics and increase visual variety on the web. Just as I am sometimes stunned by beautiful book designs, I want to be overwhelmed by beautiful web pages. And, I don’t want those beautiful pages to be made up of background images.

Håkon Wium Lie has written another call for more attention to be paid to typography on the web. I’m in complete agreement; being limited to only a small handful of ‘safe’ fonts was okay for a while, as it made people think about the best way to present those fonts; it’s fast becoming a limitation, however — when we’re using images and Flash to get around the problem, it’s way past time to address it.

The two main arguments raised in the article against font embedding — rights restrictions and aesthetics — both have the same solution: responsibility. As a website maker, it will be up to you to use fonts that you have the right to use, and to use them in a way that doesn’t look like an explosion at a print factory. Legibility must still be the first rule of web typography.

All signs indicate Opera 9.5 will be the first browser to allow font embedding using the @font-face declaration; if so, it’s another good reason why there’s so much anticipation of its release.


Seeing the light on microformats

It took me a while to see the benefits of microformats, but now I’m definitely there. In October 2006, the UK WSG meeting was all about microformats, and I decided it was too faddy, too niche for me, and that I wouldn’t bother. I regret that now.

The first thing that changed my mind for me was seeing Dan Cederholm’s presentation, Interface Design Juggling. He clearly explained their benefits, and made me think about ways my own sites could be enhanced by them.

The second thing was the suite of tools supplied by Technorati; the hCard and hCalendar convertors are easy ways to display how useful a little bit of standardised mark-up can be.

The third thing — and the real deal-clincher — was the Operator add-on for Firefox. This displays a small icon in the browser which alerts you to the presence of microformats on the page, then allows you to use the data for an amazing array of purposes; adding events to your calendar or contact details to your address book, searching for addresses in online maps, searching the leading social websites for related content… it really shows the potential of the semantic web.

For anyone still not convinced of the benefits of microformats, I urge you to install Operator and right-click on the following paragraph; once you see what you can do with it, you’re unlikely to remain unconvinced.

This post was written by Peter Gasston, who lives in Camberwell, South-East London in the United Kingdom. You can email him at if you want to say hello.


Delicious: One of the best free fonts around

I’ve done a few small tweaks on the design of my blog; it’s still not the way I had it in my head — my design skills don’t match my ideas, unfortunately — but it’s getting there, at least. I’ve had a first pass at creating a logo and a matching favicon, both of which will be further developed.

The logo, strapline and article headers all make use of the Delicious font which, as well as being readable and beautiful, is also free. It works really well on screen, and I recommend it to everybody; it would be nice to see it in more widespread use, and even — who knows? — becoming a new web standard font. It certainly adds something to this site if you have it installed.


CSS 3 and HTML 5: Simple Semantics

Interesting times to be a web developer, as HTML 5 and CSS 3 are both on the (somewhat distant) horizon. I’ve just written about the Advanced Layout module on CSS3.info, IBM developer works have a nice introduction to the new elements of HTML 5, and Wikipedia has a chart of current browser implementation.

In a few(?) years time, a basic two-column plus header and footer page layout could be as simple and logical as:

body {
layout: "aa"
        "bc"
        "dd"; }
header { position: a; }
nav { position: b; }
section { position: c; }
footer { position: d; }

What a difference that would make to legibility.


Five simple steps to alleviate IE6 frustration

A post called Trash All IE Hacks! on the (rather lovely) Web Designer Wall blog has attracted a huge amount of comments recently with its call to stop pandering to those who have the audacity to still be using the previous version of Internet Explorer (approx. 80% of visitors on one site I manage), and to display the broken layout as punishment for anyone not au fait with modern browsers.

Just in case you missed it, I was being sarcastic there; to take that attitude would be like a TV station transmitting black & white signals to anyone who hasn’t yet bought a High Definition set.

From the many supportive comments, a few said things like 85% of my time is wasted coding for IE6! or I spent two nights getting the layout to work in IE6!; to that, I can only reply: either you are doing something wrong, or you are a bad coder — or both.

It’s not hard to get sites to display properly in IE6; sure, you’ll have to put in a little extra effort, but it shouldn’t be anything like 85% of your time, or 50%, or even 10%. All you need to do is follow these five simple steps:

Read the full article


Jeffrey Zeldman: King of Web Standards

Jeffrey Zeldman: King of Web Standards serves as an interesting profile of the standardista, as well as being a history of standards and a primer on their importance.


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Aside

I’ve updated my Speaking page to include more conferences, more videos, and a little on my speaking requirements and preferences. I’m planning to cut down on the number of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to interesting offers and opportunities, so please get in touch if you’re organising an event.

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