If you’re not a designer, you probably won’t know why this type font is so despised by the design establishment! And thereby hangs a tale ….
Typography is, of course, a crucial element of web design. The choice of a type font has all sorts of psychological implications for the reader – as well as its aesthetic and technical suitability.
Any web designer – and that definitely includes our band of talented UX designers here at Dentons Digital – will tell you that there are some fonts that may be great to look at, but for various reasons they just don’t work on a website.
When it comes to choosing appropriate type fonts designers have to consider all sorts of technical things, from compatibility with multiple devices and browsers to page load time. Then the font/s used have to be appropriate for the mood, tone and message the site is meant to convey.
With literally thousands of fonts available, it’s a tough job picking the perfect one for a project.
There is, however, one type font you will rarely see a professional designer use, and that is the much-derided and loathed Comic Sans!
A DOG NAMED ROVER
No-one is more vehement in his dislike for Comic Sans than our web designer/developer, George, so it was to him I turned for some clarification on just why this “funny” font is an anathema.
Even George has to admit that when it was invented, back in 1995, for a specific purpose, Comic Sans did fit the bill rather well. It was designed by a graphic designer named Vincent Connare to be used in the speech bubble of a dog named Rover. Rover was the virtual guide for Microsoft Bob, a software programme designed to introduce young users to the then current Microsoft operating systems.
Knowing that Rover was speaking to youngsters, Connare was inspired by comic book type, and designed a font he thought would suit the purpose. He believed that the unusual letter spacing and unequal line weight of the letters lent a playful, amiable air to Rover’s communications – far more appropriate than the Times New Roman font Microsoft had gifted the dog with.
Microsoft, however, didn’t use Connare’s Comic Sans to put words in Rover’s mouth, but it did pop up in Windows 95 as one of the five supplied fonts. The trouble set in when Comic Sans was used as a default font for Microsoft Publisher, and every Tom, Dick and Harry took to using it for their amateur desktop publishing.
Perhaps a note of professional typographic snobbery crept in when all and sundry were suddenly dabbling in desktop designing. Teachers took to using Comic Sans for school notices, or secretaries used it for office circulars. They thought it looked jolly and informal – purists found the use of such a messy type face inappropriate and undignified!
As George explains it, Comic Sans isn’t even suitable for comics! Speech bubbles in comics usually contain only text written in capitals, and the text usually comes in short exclamatory bursts. Comic Sans just doesn’t work in that context.
It’s a disaster – a toddler’s scrawl – say the designers. Its use has been described as akin to wearing trainers to a wedding.
So there you have it; it’s unlikely you’ll often come across Comic Sans on a professionally designed website, but, if you do, you can be sure there will have been a very good reason for using it – and it won’t have been designed by George!