Websites with character

Internet technology moves at an alarming rate, with both techies and designers refusing to settle for the here and now, competing to develop the next best thing and push the boundaries of possibility.

As a designer myself, and a massively obsessive fan of typography and type design, I can happily confess to having always been frustrated with browser text’s design-sapping blandness.

The problem has always been though, that we a reliant on what fonts are installed on the users machine. The other big issue is accessibility, ensuring that your website is enjoyed by all.

A solution to this issue is now pooping up in various guises, but all based on the same principles. Which basically means that you can select from a much larger range of typestyles and typefaces, which renders your browser text as rich typography.

Google appear to be launching and adopting this technology, along with many others. The trick with this will, who intelligently designs and markets their first with a big impact, and who offers the cheapest service with the best range of fonts.

Being a designer, I’m naturally drawn to sites which are designed well and customer focused, and after all it’s designers this product/development is aimed at. A site which appears to do this well is http://typekit.com/

typekit.com - website typography

typekit.com – website typography

sIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement) is one of the options available. The technology basically works using a mixture of CSS, javascript and Flash. Now I know at this point you maybe questioning the involvement of Flash, but let me try to explain.

Put simply, for those who are interested, your webpage loads in as normal to begin with. Once loaded the browser has a quick check to see if Flash is installed and javascript is turned on, if it isn’t the rest of the process is ignored, and your page runs as normal with boring old browser text.

However, if Flash is installed then the clever bit begins. The javascript sweeps through your page and sizes up any elements you’ve specially tagged for the occasion. Once it knows your vital statistics it then creates and overlays a Flash file, matching the original dimensions. The original browser text is copied and dynamically fed into the new Flash as a variable.

Once in Flash cleverly formats the text as per your selected typestyle, before self adjusting the text to fit perfectly within the area, from it’s original starting size of 6pt.

The original browser text on the html page is hidden, as the newly created Flash file takes it’s place beautifully.

All of the above astonishingly happens in seconds, without any of the workings becoming visually apparent to the user. Amazing really.

Long live typography rich, accessible websites!

If you wish to discuss how we can develop your brand or provide graphic design for your product or business, call us on 0191 377 0933 or email us at creative@urbangiants.co.uk


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