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Cufon; fonts for the people


I have to admit, when I design a website, the choice of font, though absolutely crucial, is rarely a difficult one. When I design a logo or some kind of identity however, it’s a different story, but because I’m designing a potential image or vector, the decision to use a unique font isn’t as difficult, because designing a website means my choices are pretty limited because of the tiny list of standard fonts installed on a viewers computer. In any case, I personally am a bigger fan of clean and simple fonts and prefer the use of sans-serifs in my designs, though should a project call for it, serif fonts do have their moments. It’s not always a big deal though; besides the logo or the headers of a website, I don’t find using a unique font for content all that important, or even good practice. Sure there are ways around it like creating an image of the font, but the use of alt tags isn’t very SEO (though I’m told it is improving all the time by our SEO specialist at Bonobos), and since I would usually only use a unique font for headers and titles and such anyway, that would mean leaving out the H tags which is a big SEO no-no. But now I’ve come across a pretty awesome solution called Cufon (sorry that I came across like an infomercial just then).

It basically works as a font generator and turns specified text and tags into Javascript.It loads quick, it’s freakin easy to set up and probably most importantly, the source code remains in tact with tags, original mark up and everything. On top of that, should a viewer have Javascript disabled on their browser, the website will just display the standard fonts so it allows for elegant degrading. Maybe the best part of it, at least in my opinion, is that it’s IE compatible, which is suuuuch a weight of my shoulders as a developer, which, btw; this week I stumbled across a CSS bug in IE again! (the 1-2 pixel space under images which IE feels is absolutely necessary)

To be fair, I’ve known about similar solutions before like sIFR and Typeface, but they were either too complicated to use or buggy or both. Cufon however worked really well. I think this will open up a lot of opportunities for styling of fonts in web design, that is of course until CSS 3 comes out and allows font integration. For now though, Cufon will have to do, and it does it just fine. I got to integrate it into a design this week, and it works really well. Definitely recommended to any developers/designers out there and especially to those who have ever had to make the decision to use a plain, boring, common font for usability and consistency purposes.

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