Our Favorite Web Font Resources
In the early days of the web, fonts weren’t something that most developers were very concerned with. There were a handful of fonts that could work – a few serif, sans-serif and monospaced fonts, but other than that if you wanted custom fonts you had to create an image or share the actual font file. Obviously the creators of fonts wanted to sell individual users a copy of their font, instead of it being distributed for free. That’s not really possible though when visiting a site – no one wants to buy a font just to view your website!
Web Font Services to the Rescue
To fill the gap between the font creators and the designers looking to use those fonts on the web, a plethora of web font sites, services, and stores have sprung up. A web font service takes the font, converts it into something usable on the web, and then offers a way to deliver that to visitors to your site. With so many options available for web fonts, it can be hard to know where to begin. Read on to learn our favorite resources for both free and paid web fonts.
Free Versus Paid
The first choice you’ll need to make when using web fonts is do I want free fonts or paid fonts? This may sound like an easy choice, free is great! However, free fonts are sometimes of lower quality or are missing certain characters, though some of them are great fonts. Paid fonts tend to be higher quality and you can often find well known fonts like Proxima Nova, Adobe Garamond, and many more.
If you do choose the paid font option, you may have the choice of a one-time purchase or a monthly (or yearly) subscription. Depending upon how your purchase the fonts, they may need installed on your site or they may be hosted by an external service.
Our Favorite Free Fonts
Our favorite free font options are Google Fonts and Font Squirrel. Google Fonts is a hosted repository of fonts, so you include a snippet of code on your site to display the fonts. Font Squirrel offers downloadable fonts that usually come with a font kit to enable embedding the fonts in your css file.
Our Favorite Paid Fonts
For paid fonts on a subscription, our favorite options include Typekit, H&FJ, & Fonts.com. Our favorite one-time purchase site is FontSpring. TypeKit and Fonts.com have a very large selection of well known fonts, while H&FJ is limited to their own fonts. FontSpring has a large selection of fonts that aren’t as well known as some of the other options, but many of them are very well designed. Often times you can find a similar version or variation of a more well known font on FontSpring.
How do you choose?
Often the choice of which service to use will be dictated by which font service has the necessary fonts to match your client’s brand and whether or not your client wants to pay for those fonts. If your client is flexible and doesn’t have a large budget, then the free options are usually the best choice. If they do have the budget, then any of the paid services make a great choice for beautiful typography on their site.