Over the past couple of years, a quiet revolution in digital typography has taken place. Once the stuff of designers’ wildest dreams, we now have access to thousands of beautiful fonts for use online – compatible across devices and browsers new and old. The ease of use of this new technology belies its astonishing complexity and cleverness. What was unachievable a few years ago is now made possible by adding one line of code to a web page, thanks to services like Typekit, Fontdeck and Google Web Fonts.

So why does it matter? Font choice is as much a part of brand identity as the logo, colour palette and tone of voice. The subtle visual reassurance of the ‘right’ font puts your brand’s identity on everything you write. Until we had access to the wonder of modern web fonts, designers and the brands they worked with had to make do with a very limited set of ‘web safe’ fonts. The web was awash with Arial and (more upsettingly) Times, and we had to fall back on doing horrible things like making headings images rather than live text. Now we can carry your brand’s identity on into the web, rendered beautifully across multiple devices. Your customers, even at a subconscious level, can feel more immersed in your brand.

A new way of designing typefaces

This simple change has brought diversity and personality back to web typography, and has even led some of the best type designers in the world to create whole new families of fonts designed to read well at all sizes onscreen. This brings with it great usability advances – and acknowledges the web as a truly international space, with projects like Noto from Google setting out to create a unified typeface for all the world’s languages and alphabets.

Why web fonts matter

The beauty of this universal system is it allows us as designers to create a complete brand experience when we have the opportunity to start from scratch…

The only fly in the ointment? Web fonts don’t play nicely with email (yet). Currently a very small number of email clients support web fonts but here’s hoping that list will expand soon. In the meantime, we can code in safe fall backs to reliable ol’ Arial and the like.

By Dan at valiantdesign.co.uk