I’m sure, like me, you’ve come across sites which seem reasonably well designed but where the font looks all wonky and manky, as if it got rendered at a different size and scaled down using a nearest-neighbour transformation *. I came across one today and decided to get to the bottom of it. (For the record, it was for this interesting-sounding SEO tool.)
The cause? Not the use of
<font> tags — though what the hell are they doing there? — per se, but their insistence on
face="Lucida Sans". Strip them out, or bung in an accepted web font like Arial, and the lumpiness disappears.
Shame, really, ’cause Lucida Sans is a great font, but it clearly doesn’t scale well, or at least not the version installed with XP on my PC. (And no, it’s not the browser. IE6 & 7 make as much of a mess of it as Firefox does.)
Makes you wonder why the designer thought it worked. The stylesheet (yep — he or she did know about CSS) specifies an unusual body font size of 78.5% and if I could be bothered I reckon I could use this to figure out their monitor resolution. It must have been a lot of dots per inch, as there are certain high magnifications where the text looks as Charles Bigelow intended. 140% in IE7, for example.
So add this to the usual admonishments about specifying font sizes and the like: don’t be tempted to stray from standard web fonts or, SEO company or not, you may drive away visitors with unreadable text.
*My best guess is that this is exactly what’s going on.