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Web Fonts

A lot of progress has been made in the past few years, in regards to getting fonts to display on your website.  In the past we were limited to either using “standard fonts” (e.g. Arial, Verdana) for all text, or embedding text inside a graphic or flash file (which is not good practice these days).

Because users only have a small number of fonts installed on their computers (and the type of fonts users may have vary quite a bit), it is necessary to provide a “copy” of the font that the users browser needs to “render” the font.

There are two ways of doing this:

  1. Purchase a “web licence” for the relevant font, and include this on your website (self-hosted)
  2. Stream the font from a service like “fonts.com”, “Google Fonts” or “typekit” (streaming)

Issues with self-hosted fonts (not a recommended option):

Self hosted fonts tend to be the cheapest method (aside from Google Fonts which is free), however in the past TMD has experienced some problems with self-hosted fonts.  Specifically, they sometimes:

  • require extra web server setup (costs may apply to this, dependant on the hosting provider)
  • may not render properly (miss characters, have strange “glyphs” (symbols) or
  • just look terrible.

Unfortunately the only way to test if the font is working correctly is to “try it and see” (sometimes changing the size of the font can resolve issues).

Important note:  when purchasing a web font, please make sure you secure the appropriate licence for this font (some websites base their licences around how many impressions your site receives.  If you’re unsure about this at all please contact TMD).

Streaming (the recommended option)

Utilising a service such as Fonts.com, Google Fonts or Typekit resolves many issues surrounding “self hosted” fonts.  Specifically these services use Javascript to iron out browser issues (and in the case of Fonts.com and Typekit, as it is a paid subscription it is in their interest to make sure it works!).

TMD maintains paid Fonts.com and Typekit subscriptions which we offer free to our clients (provided their usage isn’t impacting on our subscription plan).  If clients need to setup their own account with Fonts.com or Typekit pricing is as follows:

Fonts.com – starts from around $110 / year (they do have a “free” option, but you do need to display a Fonts.com badge on your site).
Typekit – starts from around $25 / year.

The other alternative is Google Fonts which is a free service.  Google Fonts doesn’t have as wide a selection as Fonts.com, however it is a free service and works very well.  If you can find a font on Google Fonts that is similar to the font you want to use (that’s on a paid service), it’s a great alternative.