Verdana, your time is nearly up
One of the most controversial and ironically effective typefaces for the web is and has been Verdana. Personally I think it’s ugly as hell and almost never use it in my designs. Arial, a poor mans Helvetica, is basically the only sans serif one can choose from. Hobson’s choice indeed.
There are some good things to be said about Verdana. One of which is that it is very legible at smaller font sizes. It scales down very well. For this reason alone I have opted to use Verdana in some projects. My reluctance aside things are looking up.
Typography on the web is evolving, slowly, but surely. Browser vendors are now, or will start, allowing the importing of typefaces. Apple’s Safari is the first to do so and word is that others will follow. So start window shopping for your favourite screen font because it may soon be available for a future project.
The other major development in typography is that screens are squeezing in ever more pixels per inch. So making sure your font renders well at 10px is less of an issue that it use to be. Firefox 3 now uses OpenType’s kerning information which immensely improves the typographical qualities of Mozilla’s browser. Apple hasn’t implemented it due to performance issues. But I have the feeling they may change their mind.
The writing is on the wall. Verdana’s usefulness over other typefaces will be coming to an end. I can’t wait, in fact I won’t wait. Verdana is persona non grata from now on. Will John Gruber ever change his typeface?