Until recently, when it came to web design, a web designer or developer’s choice of fonts was restricted to a small group of web safe fonts. These fonts don’t pixelate or blur when displayed on monitors, which can often happen with traditional print-friendly fonts. This has now changed, and there is a large selection of web safe fonts available.
But having a greater choice available, where do you start to look for web safe fonts? Well, while there are many font libraries out there, my recommendation is to head straight for Google Fonts. With over 680 font families to choose from, Google Fonts come with plenty of great perks and features.
Personally, I don’t think you’ll need to look any further. And, if you need a little more convincing, here are a few reasons why Google Fonts are good enough for my design projects.
free to use
The best, if not the most obvious, reason to use Google Fonts over any other service is its zero-cost price tag, which allows you to select and use any Google font-face for free of charge.
A premium font may give your website an original look, but it will also take a huge chunk from your design budget. Especially if you have to buy in the licence to use a font family not just for web design, but need to extend the licence for use on mobile devices and print. Even worse, some font licences are priced according to the amount of website visits you receive. If you have a lot of visitors, that can easily add up to quite a sum.
The worst part is that you won’t have the freedom to go back and try out a different font once you make the purchase.
cross platform display
In some cases, different operating systems and mobile devices can cause font display errors. This can sometimes mess up the look of the entire website by displaying distorted text. Thanks to Google’s incredibly fast content delivery network (CDN), you no longer have to worry about those cross-platform issues. Google Fonts now supports all major browsers, as well as a wide range of mobile devices.
no licences required
Google Fonts don’t have any restrictions in how you can use them, as they are all released under Open Source licence. You are free to select any font in the database and use however many fonts you want. You can download, customise, print, use them on commercial projects and do much more.
Google Fonts allows the browser to connect to Google to get the font – instead of looking at the fonts on your computer. Therefore every user can see the custom Google font, even if it not already pre-installed on their computer, rather than the default font set on that individual computer. This allows designers to select from many customised fonts and to use that instead.
massive cost savings
With businesses often having branches or marketing teams scattered around the country, if not the world, we know that cost and licences are an important consideration. If each of the branches or team had to pay for separate font licences, the cost implications would be enormous. Let alone the added costs for suppliers, whether for print or digital content, who would also have to purchase font licences when creating content for their clients.
This impacts in particular when it comes to printed materials. While for online use you just need to link your website to the google font of your choice, for print you have to have the fonts installed on your Mac or PC.
With Google Fonts that is no problem. You can download copies of the same fonts you are using online, and use them for printed materials or presentations, thereby keeping the brand style going across a wide range of media.
Unlike most other web font services, Google Fonts doesn’t have a bandwidth or pageview limitation. This allows you to use any font on any number of websites with no obligations.
Google Fonts serve billions of pageviews every month for free while other subscription services such as Typekit limits their font use to only 500k pageviews a month for each website, after which additional licence fees would apply.
quick to download
This is yet another advantage of Google Fonts: they are much lighter than other font libraries or self-hosted fonts. Each font has been compressed for speedier download, allowing web pages to download in a split second on any platform, without affecting the font quality.
You can also calculate the best font combinations for your website with the fastest loading time by using the clever font selection dial on Google Fonts.
The only time I can see myself wanting to use some other fonts would be if I wanted to create a unique, one-off piece, where a font needs to be decorative and stand out from the crowd. But when it comes to brand development, you need to consider all the devices your comms will be displayed on, the different suppliers that support you, and the amount of staff and contributors that will be affected by your font choice.
With all these advantages offered by Google Fonts, brands really should consider taking a look at the many fonts available in the Google library and the practicalities of using them.