Giving Full Typographic Control to the User
So I have this friend named Lavina who occasionally sends me e-mails and instant messages set in Comic Sans. I have told her repeatedly that this font has been officially banned, but she “just likes it” and continues to use it in various pieces of correspondence… even if it is just to piss me off.
So that got me thinking, should a website allow you to explicitly set the typeface of what you’re reading? Most sites set the typeface for you. My site gives you several choices derived from what I find to be very readable faces: Lucida Grande, Verdana, Helvetica, etc. But what about the edge case that just really loves Comic Sans? Should I throw Comic Sans in my dropdown menu on the right side of this site? Clearly not, unless I want to be publicly ridiculed at work.
What I decided to try instead was adding a custom font field to the Readability section on the right side of this site. Click the “Or, specify your own…” link and type in any font you have installed on your system. Then, hit the “Set” button and voila! Mike Industries will reluctantly render in whatever twisted typeface you happen to think of that day. Even Comic Sans. Or worse yet, Giddyup (see picture above). The only downside is that you need to type the font name in exactly as your system labels it. So for instance, on the Mac, “ComicSansMS” works but “Comic Sans” does not. If you have a particular font you’d like to specify, just try a few variations of its name, with and without spaces, and you’ll get it after a few tries. If you don’t get it, the site will just render in whatever your default font is.
One thing I’d really like to be able to do with this is have a dropdown menu with all the fonts a user has installed instead of making people type a font name in. Does anybody have any idea if this is possible? My suspicion is that if it is, it may require writing something OS-specific… bad.
So for now, please enjoy the Custom Font Selector, and let me know if you have any ideas to improve it. I feel like this functionality is best suited for OS X users right now because we get to view true anti-aliased Postscript fonts in our browsers, but as mentioned with regard to Comic Sans, Windows users can “benefit” too.