Why can't I use whatever font I want on my website?

This post is a non jargon explanation of web safe fonts or browser safe fonts for non techie people. 

Our clients often request specific favoured fonts to be used in the titles on their websites, but it's not as simple as you might think.

This is because when a website is called into a browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari) of
your visitor's computer, it doesn't arrive complete with fonts. It just comes with a reference. As it jumps into the browser it tells the computer the name of the font it wants. Then as long as said font installed on the computer, the computer will oblige and supply the font for wherever it's needed.

The problem is that there are so many fonts out there, consistency across all computers is hard to get.

Meaning; if you use 'crazy funky cool font' as your main header font, but the visitor doesn't happen to have it, it will simply show as Times New Roman, which might completely ruin the design of your website.

This is a big headache, but luckily, there has been some collaboration to try to help solve this problem. The solution has been the creation of a set of 'web safe fonts' which are installed as standard on every single computer.

As long as you stick to these fonts, you can be sure your web pages will display exactly as you expect.

Can't you specify cascading options?

Funny you should ask - yes, that's right. It's possible to set a list of fonts for your website, so that if the preferred one isn't there it searches for a second one, if that one isn't there it searches for a third, and so on.

As long as you make sure the last in the list is a web safe font, you have more chance of getting your crazy funky cool font in front of those that actually do have it installed, and can ensure the alternative option still looks good for those who don't.

What if using the crazy funky cool font is the most important thing to me?

Then you should probably get a hobby. However, if you absolutely must have that font, you can insert it as an image. An image shows exactly as it is.

BUT, we strongly recommend against this as you will be sacrificing some of your highest priority search engine optimization elements and essentially turning your back on Google.

If getting your website found is not a priority, fine - otherwise, this is not a good option.