Hello, my name is Rett, and I have used Comic Sans. In fact, every Clockworker uses Comic Sans, our names are written in it on this site. If you’re reading this post, you probably know that people feel pretty strongly about Comic Sans (see BanComicSans.com for starters). The point of this post is not to argue that Comic Sans is a good font, rather to give a little background on the decision to use it and talk a bit about the importance of designing within context.

What Were You Thinking?

If you haven’t seen the people page, the photo of me above has the same Comic Sans name tag hover. So your first question might be “Why?” The answer is actually quite simple: it looks a heck of a lot more like a handwritten name in marker than any other widely available web font. Or as the creator of Comic Sans himself said, “Because sometimes it’s better than Times New Roman, that’s why.”

Sure we could have set each person’s name in a less hated font, like Printhouse by House Industries for example. From a production standpoint there are a lot of ways we could have done this and still kept it as HTML text. However, the fact is that Comic Sans accomplished our goal of looking like a handwritten name and the majority have it installed on their machine.

Comic Sans is Kinda Funny

I have to admit that we also thought it was kinda funny, and after watching the video below a while back I’d been waiting for the right opportunity sneak it into a design somewhere.

Comic Sans from Sam and Anita on Vimeo.

A Lesson in Context

The video does a great job of explaining the importance of designing within context. The reason for Comic Sans’ bad rap is largely due to it’s widespread use in situations that are not appropriate: restaurant signage, college exams, birth plans (more on that below). It truly is everywhere, once you know it, you can’t stop seeing it. But is it really that big of an issue? To designers and web geeks the answer is yes. However, most people are not designers and web geeks, and most people could honestly care less.

Giving Birth is Not Funny

Back in January right before my daughter was born, my wife and I sat down to write a birth plan. Something that we could post on the door during labor so that all the nurses/midwives/doctors could see and respect our wishes. My wife typed it up later and asked me to come take a look at it before printing it off. I took one look and was immediately appalled. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Comic Sans?”
Her: “What?”
Me:”You set the birth plan in Comic Sans?”
Her: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “The font you used is Comic Sans”
Her: “Oh, well you can change it, what would you use?”
Me: “Eh, just change it to Helvetica”
(we select all and change it)
Her: “But now it doesn’t look friendly”

She had a point. Although we ultimately decided that friendly wasn’t the effect we wanted to have, it got me thinking about how most of the people in this world look at a font. They don’t care about it’s history, who designed it, and who hates it. Chances are they don’t even think about it, they just react to how it makes them feel. So to all you designers out there, remember to keep in mind your audience and don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little Comic Sans into your life when it makes sense.