Posted by Nicole Hambleton / Article /

In the past web fonts have been somewhat limited, relying on technologies like Flash or more recently Javascript, to make their way to the mainstream. Unfortunately these technologies had drawbacks such as slow load times, tricky layout and a lack of a web font licencing model.

Rendering issues meant that you couldn’t always use the font you wanted to even if you did convert it, copy and paste was out of the window (as well as resizing and accessibility) and so branding on the web took another back seat. A well laid out design that supported an entire marketing and branding strategy in print or TV suddenly fell down on the web, when it had to rely on a default font like Arial.

Thankfully, a number of initiatives have given rise to a plethora of online font services and a wealth of rich typefaces and font foundries including some very well known ones (for your information, we're using Katarine by Suitcase Type Foundry and served by Typekit) 

Online font services have been changing the web typography scene since 2010 and are growing in popularity.

High quality fonts on the website
So you’ve designed your print and TV advertising taking into consideration the psychology of typography to evoke emotions from the viewer or user. It’s all carefully planned to create a brand identity and now you are designing the website.

Traditionally web font compatibility would have been a thorn in your side, finding something similar to the font you liked or having to render headers to make the site compatible with your other branding mediums. Now you can access an online font service to choose the font that supports your branding strategy. Finally there is a way to use real fonts on your carefully crafted website!

Legally display professional fonts
It’s all legal and you can use the font by subscription. This is an issue for everyone, especially for clients with considerable exposure and legal liabilities. The last thing you want to do is put fonts up you are not sure you’re allowed to use.

Accessibility
There is a very practical reason for web designers to consider online font serving if they want to move away from the limited number of web fonts. In the past if a designer wanted to choose a more creative font they would have to render the fonts using Flash. From an accessibility perspective this creates a range of problems. The user would have to wait for Flash to load up before the font was visible and more importantly for this day if it were viewed on a mobile it wouldn’t load up at all.

The other benefit is that real text can complement responsive design, it is scalable with the platform it is being viewed on. A win if you want to ensure your design is as stunning and flawless on a mobile as it is on a stand alone computer.

Growing Trend
One of the issues to be aware of is that not all fonts are available as yet, it’s a growing industry and new fonts are being added all the time. At some point the list will encompass every foundry's catalogues and the rise of the web and it's critical place in company marketing strategy is spurring it on.

In the meantime, have a look and browse some of the services. You will be pleasantly surprised at the range of fonts available for use on the already extensive list.

Some of the services our clients have been using include Typekit, Google Fonts and FontDeck to name just a few. In fact we ourselves are using TypeKit on our site if you would like to see it in action!