I wrote about my favorite fonts, now here’s a list of fonts I don’t like. I use a Safari extension called StopTheMadness to replace them on websites I visit with the appropriate system defaults because they’re annoying enough to be a distraction to me. I have nothing against the font authors; I know an incredible amount of time goes into font design. Many of my issues with these fonts aren’t the fault of the fonts themselves, such as overuse and poor typography practices.
Released in 2010 and one of the original 19 fonts launched with Google Fonts. I liked it at first because it looked better on the Ubuntu desktop than what came before, but then too many sites started using it because it was one of the few distinct choices on Google Fonts at the time.
What bothers me the most about it are the shapes of the letters U, N, and M. My impression is that a disproportionate amount of time was spent on designing it for the Ubuntu logo, and these letters look conspicuous in the midst of body text.
It’s a thinner font at 400 weight, which made it borderline illegible on Windows, especially on low DPI displays. It’s still rough to read on macOS and Linux at body text sizes.
Overused because it’s a system font, and the default letter spacing suffers from kerning issues.
Times New Roman
An overused system serif which is irritating to read at body text sizes due to its thin lines and kerning issues. It looks marginally better at larger sizes.
Open Sans, Noto Sans, and Roboto
All three are Google-designed and overused. They are derivatives of Droid Sans, which is why they all look similar.
Open Sans was originally designed for large sizes, but I’ve seen too many sites use it for everything and it’s a pain to read at body text sizes.
The Noto family was created to fill unicode gaps (the blank rectangle). It looks better at body text sizes than Open Sans and is the least annoying to read of the three due to its condensed default style and thicker strokes.
Roboto is too condensed; the letter widths and spacing are too tight and lowercase f, j, and t are difficult to discern. It was designed for Android UI labels and headings which had larger sizes and greater weights, but using it for body text at 400 weight is frustrating to read.
This font looks great at large sizes and thick weights, but its wide default letter spacing and forms make it less ideal for body text. It’s incredibly overused, including in my own site designs (clients love it!) and its distinct style is instantly recognizable: the undashed capital G and the upturned tail on the lowercase y.
I see the 200-weight variant a lot. Due to its geometric style and wide spacing it looks like a bunch of lines and circles in a row. Please don’t.
Ultimately these are my opinions and if you like any of these fonts, great! I can’t stop you from using them anymore than you can stop me from silently judging that decision. I encourage you to look at other options though.