While one of the two problems, readability, has been solved by the font smoothing capabilities of operating systems, the other — conveying meaning through type — remains.
Don’t get me wrong, Georgia, Helvetica, Times and Verdana are great, but most designers would probably like access to a wider selection of typefaces.
Happiness is not Comic Sans.
First of all, my argument is based on the premise that design is content. Take a look at my site in Comic Sans. I’d like to think that evokes, at least subconsciously, a different meaning for you.
The “content,” the words, are still the same, but visuals — type, photos, color — all add, or subtract from the content.
There are times, such as Web feature designs, when a designer needs to pull a typeface out his arsenal that not everybody is going to have on their computer.
Hence, we put type in GIFs.
Believe me, I don’t like it. It takes the text out of the HTML, it limits the type to a size that may be inappropriate on a very large or very small monitor — it breaks the fundamental design principle of the Web, flexibility.
But, it conveys the meaning the designer needs to send.
I’m not pushing for GIF type to live on forever, I want a better solution.
Open Type looks like a good start. It’s a type format that is easily interchangeable between PCs and Macs.
Now, about some browser vendors work on a standards compliant way to stream an Open Type face or something similar down to our users so we can have the best of both worlds: visual content and flexible design.