It is a neat system, that truly allows for rich text headlines on the web.
Since the dawn of HTML, web designers have been aching that they were limited to fonts that were installed on the end users system. Comic Sans flourished, and there was little control over appearance.
Countless attempts have been made to embed fonts on web pages, but none were really successful. Just like the floppy drive, this nuisance has persisted way longer than it should have.
Not so much anymore
With sIFR, most modern browsers will render rich headlines, with fonts chosen by the designer. It is search engine friendly and degrades gracefully. How so? Simple, and not so simple.
#main h1) with small Flash movies. The old headline is hidden, and a new, crisp Flash movie shows the headline in a font of your choice. Once the system is installed, it is fully automated.
Style vs. Usability
While rich headlines can be neat, it does unfortunately detract a little from website usability.
Mike has been kind enough to shed some light on some of these issues. Initial descriptions are striked out—actual behavior is added.
Key usability issues are:
- Dynamic (on the fly) font scaling breaks
- No visual feedback on text selection
- In some instances, links can’t be copied
- Firefox users can’t middle-click
- Rollover status bar link target disappears
If you adjust the font size using your browsers, headlines won’t scale along with the rest of the text. Text size will be applied when page is reloaded after text size is adjusted Since each headline becomes its own Flash movie, it is not possible to select text, and headers and copy/paste it. The headline will have to be selected individually, so does the body text. Text selection of body text and header works, but there is no visual feedback to indicate the header is selected. While headers, including links, work in the replaced Flash movies, right-clicking and copying them doesn’t work. If sIFR is used in conjunction with a hover color, one cannot right-click/copy target links.
For Firefox users, middle-clicking a link opens it in a new tab, a feature that breaks with sIFR (a feature that breaks for all Flash movies, for that matter)
Further related to Flash—rolling over links usually reveal their targets in the statusbar
Is it worth it?
I have not yet finally decided on whether or not to use sIFR. For one thing, things look much more stylized and nice, especially for a weblog. Still, it requires the sacrifice of some usability. So the big question is, does it look good enough to warrant itself?
I’ll let it stay here for a while, and then decide.