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I've built a Saas web application (link is on my profile). I'm using the MS Trebuchet font for about 99% of the text and I think it looks good; it's an art, not a science so there's bound to be a large degree of subjectivity. But I'm wondering if there are objective reasons that would make this font choice sub-optimal in terms of user experience and if so, which fonts should I be testing with.

Thanks.

  • Trebuchet was designed for screen use, so it's certainly an acceptable option. – DA01 Jul 17 '15 at 17:34
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1. Are objective reasons that would make this font choice sub-optimal in terms of user experience?

This is pulled from the Web Accessibility in Mind website:

"Trebuchet is an attractive font, but it has subtle curved embellishments that may decrease overall readability for long passages of text. The curve at the bottom of the lower-case "L" helps to distinguish the "L" from the upper-case "I," but when the "I" is viewed out of context, it looks like it could be a lower-case "L." Some of the glyphs are also presented in a non-standard, more decorative format, such as the ampersand (&), which may also decrease readability."

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"This is still a rather popular web font because it "has some style," so to speak. It is unique and has an artistic feel to it, but is still readable for the most part. In terms of accessibility, it is better than some fonts, but not as good as others."

2. Which fonts should I be testing with?

Penn State has some recommendations:

Highly Recommended Fonts

Verdana: Designed for monitors by Microsoft. Many sites on accessibility use Verdana.

Lucida Sans (PC)/Lucida Grande (Mac): Relatively new font. Used as a Mac system font.

Tahoma: Available from Microsoft

Georgia Serif: Designed for monitors by Microsoft.

Palatino (Mac)/Palatino Linotype (PC)/Book Antiqua (PC) Serif: Traditional print font. Weight can be light.

Andika: A free sans-serif font from SIL designed for beginning readers with clear letter forms and foreign language support. May also be suitable for readers with some reading disorders.

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Our company built a fairly complex SaaS web app for project management. Until the recent redesign, we've been using MS Trebuchet for displaying content within data grids.

Trebuchet isn't a "pretty" modern web font, however it does one thing very well which is to offer crisp legible text across platforms (Windows, Macs) for small font sizes.

Suppose you need to pack a lot of data on the screen 13px and below. Most modern web fonts do not work well in these sizes. Typically 14px is the lowest you can go before the characters start becoming mushy on the browser. Trebuchet doesn't have this problem because it's a native OS font.

Under the current design trend with modern "flat UI" etc though, font sizes have been increasing. It certainly sets a different tone to your app to use MS Trebuchet when 90+% of new apps out there are using these web fonts often with skinny light font weights. It goes back to the target audience for your app. Some user groups (e.g. designers, heavy iOS users) may expect a certain type of look to the UI whereas for other users it might not matter.

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If all your users use Windows systems (this includes phones and tablets) you're good to go. Otherwise, you should provide a fallback font for other systems that don't have this font available.

  • MS Trebuchet is available on Mac OS. It's considered as a "cross platform" font good for web usage. – nightning Jul 17 '15 at 16:54
  • @nightning how about linux? – Quamis Jul 21 '15 at 14:14
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    @quamis installed font set on a linux machine varies greatly. You should always have a fallback of "sans-serif" on your font stack. – nightning Jul 21 '15 at 16:22

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