Why the BBC would go from a font designed for readability (and one of the few who can tell I from l) like Verdana to something that isn't anywhere as good (Arial, who canNOT tell I from l), I have no clue. Verdana has a larger x-height at the same font-size setting as other fonts... that alone makes it a winner. Arial gets damn small damn fast for me. But, ok, it's the cheerleader/football jock of fonts, everyone uses it...
Well, that is sorta what I want to avoid... doing what the masses do and crave. (Very unoriginal!)
When it comes to artsy "design", go ahead, be original.
When it comes to usability (and this includes readability), don't be original. Use what works and is easiest for real human beings. Art is not readable. Science and user studies point the way. Do the right thing, as often as you can get past your clients (hint: tell them it's good for SEO... works for me).
Well, being successful in business and making $$$ IS about how things appear and how they are perceived.
But is always secondary to usability. If it doesn't work, we don't care how lovely it is. The most awesomely beautifully designed can opener who is a pain in the butt to open cans with will sit in the drawer. Joe may take it out once in a while to show to his friends, but he'll use the one he got at the ten-cent shop when he needs to open a can.
It has to work first, and then you can worry about looking more awesome than everyone else... and then you need to make sure the awesome-saus didn't ruin the usability.
Is there someone that lists all of the Common Fonts and has a picture of each - so you see what they should look like? (Almost like an "Online Library of Computer Fonts?!)
I use this page (which is slowly starting to date): http://www.apaddedcell.com/web-fonts
Also the "Linux" here is "Ubuntu" though most of those fonts also work for Fedora and Open Suse as well.
But this one stays up to date more: http://www.codestyle.org/css/font-family/sampler-CombinedResults.shtml (but the disadvantage of this page is you have to click on "image" for every font you don't have... and I don't have 90% of those).
Oh, forget Vista fonts unless you are absolutely in love, for two reasons (and yeah, I'll prolly be the only one here to say this... vista fonts have a lot of love, mostly because of the lack of ugly):
-most of them (not all) are tiny as hell. If 1em font size is readable in Verdana, it's almost half that size in Calibri. Cute, but difficult to stack well. I tend to try to keep my font stacks with similar-sized fonts, so huge size differences don't occur when font #2 or #3 is getting used instead of the first one I set.
-Vista fonts are not available to me. No Linux, no Mac, no ancient Windows (if you are targeting the corporate world, especially finance and banking with your site, expect they are using Windows 2000 servers and IE5 or 6... bleh. And no pretty vista fonts). So then unless you're using the two or three who are not so damn tiny (and one of those is monospace so you're not using it for body text anyway), you'll have huge text-size differences between (new) Windows vs every other OS.