I recently came across a technology people are using to embed vector-rendered fonts in web content. Please, just stop this nonsense. Tell your friends to cut this shit out. Seriously.

sIFR is yet another attempt by designers to become pleased by their own site. It serves no end, and it really is an extension of the vain nature of most designers. A simple and clean aesthetic is all you need. Most other things are overkill. This is a good example.

Even my own site has its own styles as a result of my own vanity. Sure it says something about me, but most of the time nobody really gives a shit. I know this, and that’s fine — that’s why my design is actually pretty damn simple.

As I said in my post about unnecessary flashiness in emails, information is ultimately ruled by content, not presentation. Look at Google or The Best Page in the Universe — even Slashdot.

The recurring theme is a focus on content, simplicity, and clarity. Without those three underlying factors, nothing matters. People will come, and they will go. They will never notice how their fonts were rendered. The keepers of sIFR so humbly see it as “The Healthy Alternative to Browser Text”. Please get over yourself, assholes.

Thanks for taking the time to make this particular method accessible. Accessible in italics because it’s technically accessible. Although, what really constitutes accessibility? Well, let’s see.

Accessibility is a mindset. It is a fundamental approach to designing sites to be universally accessible. It is a way of doing things to avoid ever excluding a subset of your entire possible audience.

A part of this approach is being cautious and always questioning the use of new technologies. In most cases the Why, How, Who, What, Where questions can be used as a simple way of gauging the advantages of new technologies:

  • Why should I use this technology?
  • How will it affect users?
  • Who benefits from this additional feature?
  • What are the possible drawbacks or dependencies?
  • Where will I use this in my site?

For sIFR, the justifications don’t just come to me. Going out of your way to render header fonts using a third-party plug-in — even if it has a fallback — is completely pointless:

  • There is no purpose other than appeasing a designer’s own thirst for attention.
  • It affects users because if they DO have flash and block it, they don’t see headers.
  • If they don’t have flash, that’s an extra step for their client when it renders markup.
  • Nobody benefits from this but the designers themselves.
  • Only people using Flash can benefit, if they block flash they miss content.
  • Nowhere, just don’t.

The designer, Mike Davidson talks about how clients have been slowly coming along in their methods for aliasing fonts. Well, that’s the idea, isn’t it? Let browsers show something standard and common and have the clients catch up as time moves on.

With so many options for desktop environments, people have the tools – Quartz, Cleartype, Xfonts, whatever. Eventually users will have complete control over how aliased their fonts are and they can all be very pleased with how neat their letters look on their own webpages. They may even be so pleased they’d call it “stunning”. That’s the kind of shit I’d expect to hear from someone who puts up thousands of golden curtains in Central Park. STUNNING! *gasp*

Overall, sIFR is just about the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen. The web is a universal tool meant to free information in an organized and simple manner. Presentation and design can play a role in improving usability and accessibility in many cases, but should never take precedence over (or serve as an obstacle to) the information itself. Content rules.

If you let design overshadow content, pack your computer back in its box set it on fire. Stunning!