Typeface and Accessibility

Funka often get questions regarding which typeface is best from an accessible point of view. The simple answer is that there is no such thing as “the best” typeface. However there are valid reasons to discuss which typeface to use. As in most cases the answer proves to be quite simple: follow standard.

In order to have at least some control over your visitors experience with your websites you should choose a common typeface. Typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Trebuchet MS are especially adapted for screens. However, all users do not have them installed on their computers. It is therefore important to specify typeface in the CSS with several alternatives.

Due to the fact that more and more surf using small screens and smartphones it has become even more important to use standard typefaces. A typeface you have encountered before has also been proven to be easier to read.

But didn’t I hear something regarding serifs...

You probably did. We who has been in the business for quite some time have seen firsthand how recommendations change. At the very beginning of web developing we recommended using typefaces without serifs online and with serifs on printed material. The reason for that was that letters with serifs looked smudgy or jacked on the low resolution screens of that period. A typeface without serifs appeared cleaner and more visible online while typefaces with serifs became easier to read on printed material as they linked the letters together and in a way creating images of words.

Nowadays we do not make that difference between printed texts or texts online. The same basic principles regarding typography and size and leading do however still apply.

A good typography makes a significant difference and may become crucial to a user if they are able and willing to read and finish an entire text. A readable typography is often “invisible”, just as usability, good form and accessibility is. When it is working, no one notices.