Don't Use Roboto.


5 minutes

In 2020 I wrote a post titled Use Roboto. That post is also the first one on this blog, there were a few others before it, but that's the only one still up. So, as you might have guessed from the title, this is a light critique of myself from 2020, as well as a small update to some technical aspects to the site.


So, there have been a few typographical changes since that post. In that post I said I simply used sans-serif as the site's font, well, that hasn't been true for a while. The font situation is a bit complicated now, as the font is most likely different depending on whether this is your first time on the site since August 12th or not. The site's main font is now "Peridot Latin", a font I picked up on sale from I love typography. This is because I no longer believe in simply conforming design-wise to the most common font, especially when it's as corporate and lifeless as Roboto. I don't know how long I will stick with Peridot Latin, but the site firmly has its own font now. Well...kind of.

You see, I don't believe in conformity, but I still very much believe in accessibility, both from a disability point of view, and a slow-internet point of view. So, the site uses font-display: optional; for all fonts, which means that for most users their system font will be used in place of the site font unless they have a very fast connection. There are two reasons for this, first to avoid the "invisible text loading" effect, and second to avoid major layout shifts when the font loads. I went through a lot of grief for this, but I've decided it's really important for me that the site be as fast as possible, and I can flex typographic skill elsewhere (as I have for a long time, for example with my monospace headings).

I did briefly consider doing something like this, with a sort of typewriter feel. I've been thinking a lot about what makes a font align with my values, y'know, and I kind of like the typewriter vibe. Typewriter-style fonts remind me simultaneously of typewriters and teletypes. Or, a bit more analogously, they remind me both of the early internet, and writers writing in libraries, both things I have fond feelings for. I haven't quite been able to muster up the courage to make such a big change that will be so offputting for people, though, at least not yet.

So, that's mostly it for the font stack, I'm going to drop the current font stack here for more technical folks so they know exactly what I'm working with.

    main {
    font-family: "PeridotLatin",  
                -apple-system,  /* system font stack */
                "Segoe UI", 
                "Noto Sans",  
                "Helvetica Neue", 
And, here is the monospace family:
    font-family: AdelleMono, Menlo, Consolas, Monaco, Liberation Mono, Lucida Console, monospace;

So that's where that is right now. I might do a different post about this later, but I want to highlight why I talk and focus on design here. Does it really matter, in the end, whether this site's font aligns with my values? Or whether I use a corporate mailing list provider vs self-hosting my own? Or whether I use g-suite or No, probably not. So why do I do it? Because I think if you're going to attempt change you need to do it at every stage. I get annoyed when I see radical organizations use zoom, or google services, or whatever. I know it's a bit irrational, but I really believe in doing stuff right at every stage. This is also why I focus on performance and accessibility, I know that pretty much zero people with 0.1mbps connections are going to be fluent in English and capable of reading what I write, but I make sure it's accessible to them anyway, it's the principle of the thing. Similarly, I've never heard of any screen reader user using my site, but I check every page myself with a screen reader, and just recently commissioned a blind person to audit the site. I wish more movements were conscious and careful about what they build themselves on, but I can't make that criticism without first doing it myself, hence, my focus on these "extra" details.

Other Changes

Innnn other news, the site is back on nginx 😎. I did this so I can collect analytics from individual pages and stuff, this doesn't change the site's privacy details, it simply means instead of Cloudflare getting all the data it goes straight to me. And, not to toot my own horn, but I'm definitely a less nefarious data collector than Cloudflare. I'm going to use that data to make reports that I will also make public to y'all (I believe in radical transparency). Here's an example report from like 30 minutes on August 12th. I know it's pretty useless, I'll try to update with a new report every week, hopefully they become a little insightful.

And that's...pretty much it? Most posts I end up writing a lot more than I intend to, this time I wrote a lot less, go figure. Sorry for the somewhat boring content for non-technical folx, we will be back to regularly scheduled programming next week. Maybe it's time for me to finally do those typography reviews, eh? I got the book scanner and everything now. So, for more typography content subscribe to my mailing list below, check out the initial Use Roboto post, or check out my unionizing inforgraphic. Thanks for reading, see y'all on the 21st!