Web Typography

The following is a guest article by technology writer James Mowery

Choosing appropriate fonts is one of the hardest aspects of a web design. The traditionally limited selection of web-safe fonts has left designers struggling to stay fresh. True, a traditional font may likely fit into your design, but even the standard Times New Roman or Helvetica isn’t present on 100% of computers. Here are some ways to use the latest technology to make sure that you get the font you want on your site, and have it display consistently for all viewers.

HTML5 / CSS3 Embeded Fonts

With new web technology, it is now possible to embed a font in your webpage and send it to users. The new techniques aren’t without hiccups, though. Designers have to use quite a bit of CSS and HTML magic to get it to work exactly the same on all browsers, and that’s only after we’ve acquired the font in the first place. Technically, displaying and embedding a font counts as redistributing it, so we must license the font for appropriate use or use a public-domain, free font. Both have their advantages and pitfalls — the licenses for commercial fonts cost money, but are generally of a higher quality. Here are options for both approaches.

Google Fonts API, a Free Option

The Google Fonts API is a great free service which lets you use any of the fonts in their directory for free. All you have to do is add a header link to your HTML to import a stylesheet, and then you can use the font. Unfortunately, the font selection is rather limited, but the friendly interface and drag-and-drop style tools help designers create a bit of distinction with little headache.

TypeKit, a Paid Solution

TypeKit is similar to Google’s technology, but executed as a “freemium” pricing structure. TypeKit’s library of typefaces is huge — including recently-added Adobe classics — but not all are included in the basic, free “personal” tier. In browsing their fonts, users will see which pricing plan it is included under. While we have generally enjoyed web design technology for free, it is often worth the small fee to create brand consistency on the web.

Savvy web designers now have a world of typography before them. With new options come new challenges, but also new rewards. We can now serve our clients better and help bolster their brands by keeping true to their design style and typography.

James Mowery is a computer geek who writes about technology and related topics. To read more of his articles, visit laptop computers.