For far too long, web design was characterized by typography that essentially used either a basic serif or sans-serif font. With the advent of programming languages like CSS3 and HTML5, however, designers are now able to embed fonts and engage in the same kind of rich typography online that they’ve long championed in traditional print materials. That’s a major leap forward for design, and it’s a big victory for quality.
Throughout the history of the printed word, typography has played a key role in how things are perceived and visualized. The right font can communicate a message consistent with its brand or designer, from a laid-back vibe to a formal and professional message. Typography also serves to differentiate print materials and websites from those produced elsewhere, and is a great way for a designer to place an individual stamp of his or her taste on the final product.
To further the goals of great typography online and off, several typography websites have come to prominence over the past few years. Their goal is to highlight new fonts, the best new uses of rich typography, and to spotlight the people who are driving the changes in the way fonts are perceived and designed. In particular, seven of these websites stand out as being heads and shoulders above the rest. Designers should, and probably will, love all seven of these websites.
Founded in 2008, TypeKit was born to give designers access to thousands of premium fonts for use in their own web designs. The TypeKit service has always been one of the many premium typography websites, offering more than 250,000 rich fonts in exchange for a small monthly membership fee. The company was acquired in 2011 by Adobe, and remains a driving force in the proliferation of non-standard fonts in today’s biggest web design projects.
TypeKit’s quick rise to prominence can be seen in the clients it currently serves with its typography products. The company is enlisted to help the New York Times display its own fonts to subscribers. Titter, IGN, and Conde Nast are also avid clients of the TypeKit service. The web developers behind TypeKit are actively working to integrate the service into today’s major content management platforms, like WordPress and others, meaning that designers who use the service now will have a leg up on the competition in the future.
Fonts all have to start somewhere, and many fonts start at Typophile. This typography website is actually a discussion forum for typography developers and enthusiasts, with those forums broken down into the various stages of design and testing. Designers can engage in the “Build” or “Design” or “Release” or “Critique” forums, among others, gaining feedback from like-minded developers about how their font succeeds, where it needs improvement, and where it has already been implemented.
The Typography Daily is one of many typography websites that’s almost like a personal Pinterest profile for its owner. The site shows off the latest and greatest fonts, as well as the latest notable uses of rich typography, all around the Internet. With categories like “inspiration” and “experiments,” those looking to enhance their skills or designs need look no further than this unique blog for all they need to get the job done.
It seems that virtually every interest or industry has its own “pedia” these days, from travel to the stock market and beyond. Typography websites are no different. Designers, and those who develop fonts, can find their Zen place at Typepedia.com, where encyclopedic pages discuss the origin, history, uses, and other aspects of just about every font or typographic trend that has ever been in use by mankind. It’s an invaluable resource, and one that will serve to educate and inspire web designers everywhere.
I Love Typography
John Boardley took on typography websites with his own blog in 2007. I Love Typography is now a group blog that seeks to educate readers and discuss the latest developments in rich web typography. The site is an ever-growing one in the typography community, with a list of contributors that continues to change as new names enter the industries and others move on to bigger and better projects. With the right combination of discussion, commentary, and education, the blog is one of the best typography websites for experienced designers and those new to the field.
With a name like “Upscale Typography,” most designers would expect this site to be one of the more discerning typography websites. That’s exactly what Upscale Typography is. It serves as its own foundry, creating fonts that are timeless, appealing and enduring. The website also functions as a blog, showing off the company’s work and acclaim, as well as other typography products that have met the standards of the “Upscale” brand.
For the closest thing to a newspaper among typography websites, look no further than FontFeed. The website is one part inspiration, with plenty of new fonts and font reviews, and one part discussion with the latest developments in typography from all around the Internet and the world. The FontFeed also offers tips and tricks for the best use of various fonts in various applications, making it an essential tool for those new to design or rich type altogether.
The Future of Type is More Promising than Ever
With rich fonts finding their way into even the most basic web designs, the future of typography online has never looked better. The seven typography websites presented above are easily the most well-known and useful for typography enthusiasts, but they’re supplemented by hundreds of other websites that are united by a common goal: Advance the cause of rich web fonts until everyone has embraced them.
Fall in love with these sites, use these sites, and allow them to transform the way designs are done. Future generations will undoubtedly be thankful that these seven sites helped to end the era of Arial vs. Times New Roman decision-making.