I switched this blog, and my other blogs, away from Google Fonts over to TypeKit this weekend. Will it matter to you?
TypeKit, for those of you who may not be aware of it, is a web font service. It allows web sites to use something other than the typical Times New Roman or Arial fonts that we’ve seen for many years now. Google Fonts does the same thing, and I’ve used them for roughly a year now on this site. Not only are these services offering different fonts than the typical web fonts, but they’re also higher quality and, I think, add to the readability of the site.
Does TypeKit Matter to You?
When I brought this up on some social media sites over the weekend, I got a variety of responses. Some people like it. Some people don’t care. Some people wonder why I would switch from a free font service to a paid font service when no one else will really notice or care.
They’re all right. I’m not a font purist. If I were, I’d understand when someone scolded me for the incorrect use of font vs. typeface. I’m also not a designer. Those folks who have training to know which fonts work together definitely have a leg up on me.
I just know what I like. That’s why I will shamelessly steal font combinations that I like from other sites, which is exactly what I’ve done here with my first TypeKit choices. They’re the same fonts used on Brian Gardner’s blog. I loved them on his site and now they’re on mine. Remember, no shame.
If you read my posts on an RSS feed or by e-mail subscription, you aren’t seeing the fonts that I’m talking about here. While I may not be able to change that for the RSS readers, I believe I can make a change for the e-mail subscription readers. One of the nice advantages of using TypeKit is that it gives me access to the same Adobe fonts (among others). That’s going to take a bit more work to resolve, though.
Ultimately, I think the change will help me deliver a consistent user experience on my site and by e-mail. Some of the things that I do on my posts don’t really translate well off the web site.
Why I Switched to TypeKit
Looking at a site full of fonts is like walking into a bakery. There are so many delicious choices, but you have to narrow things down to what you really want. It also helps to know what you need instead of being tempted by all the goodies there. Here’s what I had in mind for my needs.
- A font for headlines
- A font for body text
- A font for emphasis
Most of the time, I’ll only use the first two. Prior to the switch, I only used Open Sans from the Google Font selection. There honestly wasn’t anything wrong with Open Sans. It’s a very nice font and I preferred it to using Arial. However, there were a couple of reasons why I switched from Google Fonts (for free) to TypeKit (paid annually).
I Don’t Trust Google
Let’s start with this little concept. Google provides web fonts for free. The selection isn’t quite as large as TypeKit, but I had absolutely no problems with the quality or readability of the font I was using. I just don’t trust Google to keep providing fonts as a free service. I’ve found through experience that relying upon Google’s free services ultimately leads to frustration when Google decides to kill that service, as it has (or will soon do) with:
- Google Reader
- Google Sync
- Google Affiliate Network
There are a lot of tombstones in the Google Graveyard. I have no idea if or when Google will kill its free font service, but I don’t want to wait or wonder. They haven’t really been adding to the fonts or making updates. I prefer to give money to people who are working on their service rather than letting it fester. Adobe bought TypeKit a couple of years ago. If you have the Adobe Creative Cloud, I believe you also have access to TypeKit as part of that service. It’s active and includes some wonderful font choices from a variety of foundries. Using TypeKit also means that I have access to some of the same beautiful fonts that I see in Photoshop. If I want to use Adobe Garamond, it’s in there.
I Like the TypeKit Fonts Better
While I mentioned that I had no problems or qualms with the fonts provided by Google Font, I admit that I just like the fonts in TypeKit a little better. As some of my friends observed, most people won’t tell any difference at all. That’s OK. I don’t want the fonts to jump up and smack you in the face.
Instead, I view them as a small tweak to the site. They provide a very subtle change to the readability and feel of my site, but they also help me stand out a bit more from every other site using standard web fonts. It’s a personal thing (even if I ripped off Brian Gardner’s fonts).
The headline font I’m using now is Museo Slab and the body font is Proxima Nova. For an emphasis font, I chose Sanvito Pro. It looks something like this:
I’m having second thoughts about that one, though.
I’m experimenting with a bit of color, also. That’s another design decision where I have no training or eye for matching colors. That’s why I rely upon a tool called ColorSchemer Studio that I found in the Mac App Store. It simplifies making color decisions. There’s an eye-dropper in the bottom left corner of the tool. I can use it to select an existing color that I like and it will build a color wheel of corresponding colors to use.
For example, I knew that I wanted to use Red and Blue for my emphasis font. What I didn’t anticipate is how horrible those colors looked alongside the Orange-ish hyperlinks I’m using here. All I had to do was grab the eye-dropper tool and select the color in my hyperlinks and ColorSchemere Studio gave me a color wheel with hex values for colors that would work. Maybe the reddish color I chose wasn’t the smartest decision I ever made, but it’s not as grotesque as using the color: red value in my CSS.
Another part of the tool I like is the Gallery Browser. It connects online and provides a color scheme search based on a keyword or phrase. For example, doing a search on “Florida” gave me plenty of color schemes to match.
It really comes down to this thought. The fonts and colors I use are just the way I decorate my home on the Internet. Some of the folks I’ve spoken with over the weekend would never spend money on fonts when they can get them for free using Google Fonts. That’s fine. For my home, I’m happy to pay for something that decorates the site as I’d like it. The plan I purchased is about $50 per year for multiple sites. That’s roughly a tank of gas. Not a big deal.
If you’re reading this on my RSS feed or on the e-mail subscription, you’ll have to visit the site to see what I’m talking about. TypeKit is just the latest tweak to my digital house and everyone is welcome to stop by and let me know what you think.