Fonts on the web

For experienced Internet hands, the subtleties of font usage on the Web is probably old hat. But for many newcomers, it’s often a sour pill to swallow – the fonts you use on your computer every day cannot be used on your Web site.


In the earliest days of the Web, the number of fonts available to Web designers counted about five. Beautiful typography was non-existent. The source of the problem lied in the fact that when a designer specified a font – Arial, Helvetica or Times New Roman, for example – that font had to be installed on the computer of the user visiting the web site or the font simply couldn’t be displayed. It was impossible to know who might visit your Web site and what fonts he or she might have installed.

A solution was first proposed in 1998 with CSS2, but the techniques never caught on. It wasn’t until 2009 that a robust solution finally gained traction: the CSS3 Font Module, which allowed designers to send font files down the pipe just like images.

But there was a catch. A few actually, and not small ones.

For one, fonts are made by font designers who earn their living from making fonts. Many would not be able to eat if their products flourished freely across the Internet. Browser support was inconsistent, too, which made consistent display impossible at times.

By late 2010, however, most of those issues had been solved and a new era of Web typography was in full swing. Yet still the problem remained: the fonts you used on your computer every day could not be used on your Web site.

The reasons were two-fold. The first was mostly a technical issue. Many, if not all, of the fonts on your computer are optimized for print, not digital display. So they just don’t look right on the Web. They are too small, too rough. The other reason was a legal one: you only have the right to use, not distribute, the fonts on your computer.

Free public libraries

So what is the answer? Since web typography has spread, a handful of services have come along to help solve this issue. The two most notable ones are Google Fonts and Font Squirrel. The first offers a library of fonts freely available to use in all your digital projects. The second offers an easy way to package fonts you own into easily shareable web formats. And both are free.

Spend some money

It’s still likely, however, that most of the fonts you love are not available from the above services because of copyright issues. You can probably find them from paid services such as

Now that you have tons of fonts at your fingertips, take a little time and learn about font pairing and selection.

Profit-driven menu design

The average restaurant could probably boost its profits by 20 to 30 percent through better menu design. Maybe even more.

The objective of menu design, of course, is to steer diners away from low-profit dishes and toward higher earning ones. Even if you’re not a restaurant owner — or a menu creator — it’s easy to understand how smart design choices can boost the bottom line.

Good and bad design is not just limited to restaurant menus, however. Smart creative is no less important when it comes to logos, business cards or Web site designs. But in instances of the latter, good and bad design choices are not always as easy to quantify. Their effects, however, are no less profound.

Anatomy of a restaurant menu: the good, the bad and the profitable.

Profit driven: The psychology of menu design

The New York Times recently talked to a few top-notch restaurant menu designers about ways to increase the bottom line. Turns out, designing restaurant menus is as much science as it is beautiful colors, and the wrong choices can kill profit margins just as sure as the right ones can boost it.  Some highlights:


  • good descriptions increase sales
  • so do good photos
  • reds and blues make people hungry
  • brand names also boost sales, compared to generic products


  • grays and purples make people feel satiated
  • the dollar sign is bad; it re-enforces “the pain of paying”
  • .99 infers value, but not quality; .95 is better

In a tight economy, even a small increase in revenue can have a significant impact on a business, and the points about pricing resonate well beyond restaurant menus. The theory speaks directly to customer satisfaction, something no business can afford to overlook, even in the best of times.

READ IT: Using Menu Psychology to Entice Diners