Those of us who design primarily for print applications often take it for granted that we can choose any typeface we want for a particular project. If I can’t find the perfect font already in my library, I just go online and buy a new one. Type is one of my “things” – I love it, and I love finding exactly the right font for each client or piece. Which is why the web has been such a frustration for me as a designer: For years, technology and license limitations have reduced the number of fonts we could use on the web to only a handful. Sure, there were workarounds, but the solutions had their own limitations and often required giving up some usability or accessibility. No matter how compelling the graphics on a site might be, the text was always generic. But after years of looking at sites rendered in Times, Georgia, Arial, Helvetica or (gasp!) Comic Sans, font technology is finally catching up to the rest of the web.
Current browsers now support a CSS (cascading style sheet) rule called @font-face, which uses fonts that have been embedded in the site to display text, and type foundries are extending their license agreements to include web usage. There are even companies offering web fonts as a subscription-based service, so users don’t have to purchase new licenses for their entire font libraries, making the technology more accessible and affordable. Instead of a handful of type options, there are thousands.
But, you say, “What difference does it make? I don’t mind Helvetica or Arial, and I’m just fine using Comic Sans.”
It’s not that the current way isn’t fine, but that it can be better. The fonts you use, on the web or in print, are part of your graphic identity, and ultimately, part of your brand. They give your text a voice, beyond the words that you use, and now the voice that you use in print materials can be heard on your website. The technology isn’t perfect or universal yet, but it’s a big step forward. If you’re interested in learning more about how your company’s fonts can be used on the web, give us a call. We’d love to talk more about adding your [type]face – and voice – to your website.
Elin joined the Neuger Communications Group team in 2004. Her exceptional design skills have shaped countless beautiful print pieces, websites and e-communications projects for a wide variety of clients. Elin also lends her experience and insight to communications audits, branding strategies and other endeavors. She is the undisputed typography expert of the office, and after her month-long Rotary-sponsored tour of Sweden in 2014 she can undoubtedly converse about “fönts” in at least two languages. Learn More About Elin »