Choosing the Right Type of Web Typography

Ben Groulx
Jun 16, 2012
Choosing the Right Type of Web Typography

Since its birth, graphic design has dabbled with a variety of elements. But at its core lies the important, unchanging tool: typography. The use of beautiful, flawless letters speaks volumes, and to most it goes unnoticed.

Typography and Web Design

Web design is no different from any other piece of design, in that every element has been considered (or rather should have been). Typography is no exception. But for the last decade of web design our only typographic options were "web safe fonts," typefaces universally installed on computers. These included faces such as Georgia, Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, Times New Roman, etc. Some web safe fonts are actually great pieces of design; Georgia is a wonderful typeface, created specifically for screen readability. Arial (a knockoff of Helvetica) is another good body text example. But as great as they are, the fact remained our typographic selection was severely limited. 

Working Around Typographic Limitations

There were several ways designers/developers would work around this limitation. The first and most common route was to specify the desired typeface in hopes that the user would have it installed. If they didn't, you would view their second choice as a fallback, and so forth until the user had one. These are called font-stacks. Another option was to make the desired text an image, but for SEO reasons this isn't ideal. Other options were to use sIFR (flash-based alternative) and Cufon, but those methods are mostly outdated.

Font-Embedding Arrives

Along the line, it was conceived that if a website could give the user the font they've specified, they would be able to view the design as intended. That was the idea behind font-embedding, the @font-face rule, and font-serving platforms such as Google Webfonts, Typekit, and Fontdeck. Font embedding will link to the font files, whether they are hosted on the website's server or on another, and create the same effect without you having to install the fonts on your own local computer.

As we technology progresses, we are given the ability to precisely control exactly what we wish the viewer to see, allowing for more creative freedom. As a small business owner, typography is a core element of your brand, and font-embedding will reinforce this. We at Custom Fit are ecstatic that we can provide elegant typographic solutions for our clients, so talk to us at Custom Fit to see what we can do in terms of font-embedding for you or your company.

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