22 11/2010Damien Buckley Typekit - bring forth the fonts

TypekitNot many people realise it but websites have traditionally been bound by the regular fonts installed on the users computer. Hence until recently web designers have been restricted to a rather small list of around 8-10 fonts which can reasonably be expected to be present on most users’ machines.

Thankfully most modern browsers support embedded fonts allowing the web designer to attach fonts along with other assets such as stylesheets and images and use them in the website, freeing us from the boredom of forever building websites using the same fonts or as has more often been the case, employing techniques such as Flash Inline Replacement or Image Replacement techniques which although effective, are not particularly accessibility-friendly and certainly don’t help with page loading speeds.

There is of course, a catch. Even though fonts CAN be embedded, legally things are less clear, with most fonts being protected by copyright – even those available for free…

Hillman Meat CompanyIn the past couple of years a lot of work has been done to bring web fonts to the fore and Propeller have just given Typekit a trial run with our latest website launch (left).

Typekit is a subscription-based service for linking to high-quality Open Type fonts from some of the worlds best type foundries.

Typekit have worked with foundries to develop a consistent web-only font linking license and developed a technology platform that lets them host both free and commercial fonts in a way that is incredibly fast, smoothes out differences in how browsers handle type, and offers the level of protection that type designers need without resorting to annoying and ineffective DRM.

Web FontsIf we take Hillman Meat Company as our example – under our Typekit subscription we’ve been able to access and embed the beautiful Annabelle script font by Veer for the main headings and Angie STD Sans to complement it in the body.

A refreshing change from Georgia, Verdana et al I’m sure you’ll agree.

If in the unlikely instance that the Typekit service is unavailable or if users have Javascript disabled on their machines, the CSS stylesheet provides fallback fonts in the usual way – ensuring that the website is presentable no matter what.

Given the success we’ve had with Typekit on this project, its almost guaranteed it will be finding its way into many future Propeller projects.

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