How Typography is Shaping the Course of Web Design: A Primer

Typography can influence the overall web design like no other page element. The choice or combination of ill-advised typefaces can determine an beautiful website to an awful one.

At times, typography is the design itself. This is proven true with beautiful websites that rely on spacing and deliberately chosen typeface to convey their respective messages.

The year of typography

Considered as one of the leading web design trends, typography is enjoying ts renaissance after staying in the backseat for far too long. Much of their obscurity is attributed to the limited number of typefaces available to choose from as your website’s font.

For the latest 18 years or so, designers only has a whopping five typefaces to choose from: Times New Roman, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, and Arial. As a result, websites tend to look the same from a typography standpoint given that you can only do so much with the five typefaces to choose from.

Typeface creators were reluctant to license their fonts in fear that people will use it against the law given the lack of ability to track guilty parties. This was similar to the music industry when songs and albums were being bootlegged by file sharing sites at the time, which resulted to artist not receiving royalties.

The changes in principle started in 2008, when Safari 3.1 allows users to download any Open Type or True Type files, which can then be used to appear as your browser’s typeface. For type foundries that were doubtful of releasing their fonts for public viewing online, as the Web Open Font Format uses a layer of protection so visitors won’t be able to download the typeface shown in a page. This also ensures foundires that their fonts won’t go into the hands of someone who will misuse them.

These incidents broken upon the World Web Wide to a gamut of fonts and typefaces that they can use for their websites. The main issue with the limited font choices from years past was that it was difficult for online businesses to provide an immersive experience for their customers using the same old fonts. With thousands of legally available typefaces up for grabs, this gives businesses their online space an opportunity to elevate and add an additional layer to their branding campaign.


The typefaces used in the homepage of Handiemail is almost equivalent to the number of fonts available 15 to 18 years ago. What’s even more impressive than the volume of typefaces is how each of the chosen typefaces for the homepage (along with the vintage and “paper” feel of the page) exhibit a particular branding that lends to the entire experience of Handiemail, an online service that converts your typewritten letters into handwritten notes.

Contrarians wish to point out that the developments in web typography – mainly, the expansion in the choice of typefaces to be used and displayed on their website – is too excessive for one’s own good. However, the breaking down of web typography’s limitations was the tipping point that cause a maelstrom of fonts that web developers, designers, and even casual web browsers can use to provide a more customized experience on how they want their websites or the viewing of websites should feel.

That said, the excess of fonts available today is merely a byproduct of web typography that realized its potential just now after years of suffering from limited choices.

Web typography as industry

Because of the growing needs for online business to exhibit their branding through typefaces, a stream of web font services such as, Typekit, and Google Fonts provide developers with fonts that possess the look and feel they’re aiming with their websites. Each has different pricing and customer support options to help you determine which service you wish to go with for your font needs.

Feerer Co

One of the points that web designers and developers emphasize on when building websites is usability. With Ryan Feerer’s website, the “Nice to See You” text is the main focus of the page. The use of web copy and typeface is usable in principle because it brings the users from being visitors down to being a welcome guest into his humble online space. This makes sense considering that Ryan is a freelance designer, illustrator, and restaurateur. Establishing a rapport with his audience using the stated approach can help him net more clients in the process.

Similar to most of its services, Google Fonts offer their typefaces for free. While there will be great fonts that you will find there, you will have to get through to the mediocre ones before you find the diamonds in the rough. For paid services, premium and exclusive fonts will be made available to you. Not to mention, they will take care of the coding and font managing involved in this regard, a choice that will interest non-designers.

Typography now and beyond

The reliance on typefaces as their website’s core design help you and other online businesses create a faster loading website, which is a priority in today’s on-page optimization factors as per Google. Since loading fonts won’t run on a script or other server-bogging resources, your site will provide a seamless interaction between you and your customers.

Also, the advances in CSS4 and other markup languages help lean up the code, which again makes your site to load faster and more efficiently. From a design perspective, the latest iteration of the CSS style sheet promised cool font effects such as shadows, outlines, and others to provide visitors will an enriching and unique experience.

There was a problem not long ago about the rise as smartphone as problematic for typography because it will warp the appearance of the site when viewed using these smaller device. However, responsive typography now allows developers to maintain the quality of their typography design by adapting to the screen’s resolution.

Suggested readings:

More on typography:

21 Free Typography Tools for Web & UI Designers

The Effect of Typography on E-Commerce Conversions

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