Jay Small wrote a great piece looking at how XP and OS X make text easier to read using font smoothing.
While I agree with Jay that the improving look of text on computer screens is good, I’d just like to point out that it does not mean the end of putting text into GIFs.
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.