Meanwhile sans-serif fonts run in fashion cycles between Arial and Verdana with a spurt of Helvetica, Trebuchet or Tahoma use coming and going. Most of the remaining web-safe fonts are either mainly useful in certain applications, such as Courier or are a sin to use in most of the design community (Comic Sans).
There are also a few variants of web-safe fonts that receive little attention, such as Arial Narrow, which is much more prevalent on user’s systems than Helvetica, and does a better job than most of the sans-serif fonts for headlines. Lucida Grande has seen a rise in popularity on the web, even though it’s primarily a Mac based font by default, much like Helvetica.
While I love Georgia and Helvetica primarily out of the current nine, there are a few fonts that have been shipping for seven years on both major operating systems:
- Palatino Linotype (Palatino on Mac
- Century Gothic (Century on Mac)
All of the above fonts are shipped with Windows 2000/XP and have been included on the Mac OS since for a similar period of time. However, none receive more than limited use on the web which is quite the shame.
The point is that CSS offers us font-families to help browsers gracefully degrade in a manner that we choose. So why not set the primary font to something more suitable to your uses? There’s nothing wrong with setting a lesser used font at the fore-front of your font-family declaration if your site still maintains the intended effect with a non-optimal type-face.
While using such type-faces can distinguish you from the herd, you shouldn’t use them just because. Every font has a subliminal interpreted feeling that as a designer is usually the focal point of the decision of what font to use. There are also creative ways of using the existing web safe fonts, unusually large sizes, line-heights, kerning, etc. can all create new visual cues that a designer can use to their advantage.