Design

Designer says 'stop using Helvetica and Arial'

Instamojo co-founder thinks too many use typefaces without questioning why

Designer and Instamojo ‘partner in crime’ King Sidharth has made a plea to the web industry regarding typography.

In 'Stop Using Arial & Helvetica', he argued the popular fonts are too often used by default, mindlessly, “just because everyone else does”. He bemoaned the “lack of thought” in this process and suggested these fonts typically fare poorly on the web, adding that Helvetica needs a level of custom kerning, which is currently unavailable online, and Arial is “just ugly”.

Sidharth thought a combination of ignorance and font availability were the main reasons behind the prevalence of Arial and Helvetica, and sought to remind people of alternatives that have rather fallen out of favour, such as Verdana, Georgia and Lucida Grande.

Speaking to .net, Sidharth said it’s got to the point where he now often uses the Readable app to read anything online, but small tweaks can often make a world of difference to websites. “The problem isn’t really designers as a whole, but people who don’t care or don’t know about type,” he continued. “Often, they fail to see any difference between typefaces, but typography is hugely important because most of the web is text,” he added. 

He joked that some people on Hacker News went so far to suggest that users just write their own style sheets if they had a problem (“That’s just bizarre. Are we really expecting users to write their own CSS now?”), and added that anyone who often plumps for defaults without really knowing why should learn to explore: “Just start reading. There are loads of great posts and books on the subject. And I know myself that it’s not easy. I designed websites at school using Arial! But eventually, you will get there!”

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