There. I said it. May the design gods smite me down where I stand. But really, I can’t take it anymore!
Seems everywhere I look there’s another blog espousing the ‘wonders’ of H and other “classic” fonts. The ones they could happily be stranded on a desert island with. Really? As if you wouldn’t be BORED TO TEARS after the 157th or 324th time you used THE SAME FONT.
Newsflash…Helvetica was old back in the 80’s when I was required to use it for corporate work. Cold. Plain. No nonsense. Useful. B.O.R.I.N.G.
Yes. I get it. Easy to read. Doesn’t pollute the message with “personality”. Large x-height. Blah, blah, blah. But you know what? If it disappeared, I would SOMEHOW manage to find suitable fonts–for the rest of my life–without ever regretting the loss of H.
There are so many wonderful choices!
Trouble is…not all of them are a) free or b) ‘cough’ the easiest solution [you gotta do some research!].
Here are some current alternatives. Plus some are free and have EULAs suitable for web font embedding!
Myriad is good–especially because it comes with plenty of versions: condensed/italic/black/light to put to good use on style sheets. The italic light is particularly modern, yet friendly and very easy to read with large x height.
One of my favs: Rosemary Samuels. Affordable and Ws to die for. Clean, modern with large x-height, but far more approachable than H. In fact, the entire Samuels family are pretty cool–and within the reach of small firms.
Wish I could afford/justify: Leitura Sans and Leitura Roman. Elegant sans and serif families with sassy lower-case a and sharp, square serifs. Serif has some of Bodoni’s elegance w/o legibility issues.
Anyway, these are just a few alternatives to Helvetica. Don’t even get me started on Gill Sans (am I the only one who hates its lowercase a???).