What Are the Benefits of Web Fonts?
Typography is often overlooked, but it’s a key element for any brand identity. Until recently, designers were extremely limited as to the fonts they could use for website design, but this is no longer the case with the advent of web fonts.
What is a web font?
To answer this, let’s first talk about the core difference between a web font and a desktop font.
A desktop font is installed directly a computer, and becomes readily available for use in all of the applications also installed on the computer—such as Microsoft Office or Excel. Desktop fonts are typically optimized for print, and often do not render as well on screen. Some desktop fonts are automatically loaded on every desktop computer, and some can be downloaded for free, while others need to be licensed, or purchased, for use. In the past, in order to display desktop fonts on a website, designers were forced to create a “picture” of the text. This left websites at a disadvantage, because these pictures were not “readable” by search engines like Google, and the text could not be used for search engine optimization (SEO). The alternative, to keep text editable and searchable, was to limit online typography to the handful of typefaces that can be found on “nearly every” computer, such as Arial, Times New Roman, and Georgia—taking away key brand identity elements.
Web fonts are designed specifically for use on the web, and can be loaded with CSS code. By using web fonts, designers are able to create a rich, custom look, while keeping the text easily editable for both style and content changes—and easily accessed by search engines like Google.
Where do I find web fonts?
Google currently offers an extensive library of over 600 web font options that can be used on any website for free. Paid services are also available and contain some of the worlds most recognized and popular typefaces. Fees to use these fonts can range from five dollars to several hundred dollars per month, and can also increase due to the amount of traffic on the website.
Most commonly, web fonts are downloaded from sites such as Typography.com, Fonts.com or MyFonts. The web font files are downloaded directly, and installed into the websites’ “root” or index files. This enables the web site to run the fonts from a file on its own server in the cloud, so no matter what computer or device a user is on, they will be able to see the web fonts when visiting the site.
With the increasing variety of web fonts available, designers are able to fully integrate a brand, creating a consistent look and feel across all media, from print to online, regardless of device size or operating system. This means a more cohesive brand experience for customers. For example, the visual branding for USI features the typefaces Vitesse and Forza, each of which are prominently used in both print and electronic media.