My Thoughts on Typekit

As long as I’ve been designing, one of the biggest gripes Web Designers have (other than Internet Explorer) is the limited stack of web-safe fonts. What we mean by web-safe fonts are fonts that are installed on a very high percentage of visitors Operating System. Web-safe fonts (Georgia, Arial, Verdana) work well, and are nice to show to the guests visiting a site designed by you.

Typography is much of what web design is today. Having the ability to let designers be a bit more creative with font choices is a huge sell to any designer. This is where Typekit comes in and saves the day. Typekit replaces web-safe fonts with what would normally be non-safe fonts to use in peoples designs, while maintaining the ability for people to interact with the font like a normal font would (copy, paste, enlarge). There are some other options such as SIFr and Cufon but these use either flash, heavy javascript crunching, or allow people to download (and use) licence restricted fonts. Typekit instead uses @font-face, which will allow you to privately use fonts, by linking the browser to the font files on the typekit servers. This makes the fonts just like any other web-safe embedded font online. Typekit also has a increasing number of font foundries who they work with to allow you to legally use their fonts on your sites. This alone is a huge plus for the Typekit setup.

Typekit has 4 different stages of membership, each with added benefits, different amounts of fonts included, and pageview limits. While it may be considered pricey to some, for a year it is cheaper than a video game, which when put into context of more typography control is easily worth the money to me.

The best part about Typekit and @font-face is that this works in IE6+, Firefox 3.5+, Safari 3.1+ and Chrome 4.0.294+. The only major browser that it doesn’t support is Opera, but heres another great thing; graceful degradation. Typekit will allow you to use their fonts right in your CSS’s font stacks, so if it is not enabled on the browser the guest is viewing the site on you can still have a web-safe font show up easily.

So here is what I think of it. Overall, a great service at a rate that is quite good when you consider some of the font foundries you’re getting to use, and the typekit servers speed from what I’ve been seeing. There are only a few negatives that I think are even worth writing about. First and foremost is the added load to the page. Fonts are linked via your browser, and depending on the font it can be from 10k-50k per font. This may seem like a lot, but thinking of it as images, that is 1-3 larger images on a page, not something I’d say is a deal-breaker. The other negative that I see is many fonts aren’t good for use at small sizes. This is to be expected, and typekit even has some suggestions for type used in paragraphs and lower sizes.

P.S. – If you’re on a supported browser, the font you’re reading is a typekit font (FF Tisa Web Pro). Headings are also a typekit font (Adelle)