Here’s an interesting idea. Text Prefs is an online typographic survey where you can choose your preferred text formatting — font, text size, line height, column width — and then vote for it.
According to the creators, Message, the site was developed because:
…we found there to be a distinct lack of hard facts about how online users prefer their text displayed…
Once there have been enough responses Message will summarize their findings in a report this summer.
Of course, the obvious flaw in this survey is that what constitutes the most appropriate typography depends on its context of use.
If more people vote for Verdana than, say, Georgia, does this mean you should never use the latter in your web designs? Of course not.
Still it will be interesting to see if there are any useful findings to come out. I am especially keen to see what can be learned about column widths. Stay tuned.