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They missed one obvious disadvantage - it doesn't work where users force their browser to use a specific font. All I see are letters instead of icons.

That said, would it not also make more sense to use codepoints within the "Miscellaneous Symbols And Pictographs" range where possible (http://unicode.org/charts/PDF/U1F300.pdf), where you'll find things like volume icons, padlocks, pins, etc. These are missing from my font of choice too, of course, but this seems more in keeping to me with the idea of a semantic web page.

Trying to introduce a design compatible with a user that specifically overrides your design seems like a losing battle, not one that should even be waged.

I think the point is that a user wouldn't know they're overriding the design. When a user sets a uniform font, they're opting to not see whatever font the site was designed for, but it's not at all obvious to them that they'd be messing with icons.

But re-inventing things that already exist is also sub-optimal. Why create a font, why not use an existing standard?

Also, having a list of the icons together with their labels made it easy for me to know what they meant. Some of those icons would be baffling to me if they didn't have a label. I could be convinced that extra visual clutter is a good thing, but some designer is going to have to give a nice example.

That's not the point, I think. If the article proposed we all switched to using wingdings, it would get the derision it deserved.

Here it is my phone which is overriding your design, i can't see the icons

You're describing a weird place where you want to display a semantic document (the html) using some non-semantic style rules (css, specifically :before and :after) and not others (@font-face) and then interpret the result as a whole semantically.

If you want to browser-set font colors, you're going to have a hard time when they match CSS set background colors.

I don't force the font colour in my browser, but I do force the font face, as I have trouble reading sans serif type. (Although I could see why someone might want to force the colours in their global stylesheet for accessibility reasons.)

Personally, I'm not particularly fond of the use of :before, etc. either (they should be used for purely decorative purposes - the examples in the article seem to be using them to convey meaning), so what I'm suggesting doesn't really make much sense. :P

Sometimes we take the whole semantics thing to a point where it's counterproductive. Not every single selector has to be semantic. That's how get into situations like the ones that lead to Nicole Sullivan writing "Our best practices are killing us":http://www.stubbornella.org/content/2011/04/28/our-best-prac...

Wouldn't it make more sense to use a private use area?

That would still have the risk of collisions when others use the area for a different character, but at least, the rendering library will have a reason to suspect that may be the case.

>it doesn't work where users force their browser to use a specific font. All I see are letters instead of icons.

Or where the user configures his browser not to use downloadable fonts, like I do.

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