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Google Web Fonts & Font Replacement

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Tuesday May 8, 2012 )

Wanting a little more variety in fonts for your web pages that will render properly in most browsers? You don’t have to use images – try Google Web Fonts.

The Google Web Fonts collection currently boasts 110 font families – all open source, so free to use on hobby and commercial sites. Pick your font, grab some code; refer to the style in your pages – that’s all there is to it.

The API service runs on Google’s servers. Response time is quick and the fonts won’t noticeably slow down page load times.

You can also download the fonts to host them on your own server if you prefer.

Browser compatibility:

Google Chrome version 4.249.4+
Mozilla Firefox: version: 3.5+
Apple Safari: version 3.1+
Opera: version 10.5+
Microsoft Internet Explorer: version 6+

In relation to mobile devices, the fonts will work on Android 2.2+, iOS 4.2+, with some limited support for earlier iOS versions.

Google isn’t the only show in town offering this sort of service. TypeKit has over 700 font sets to choose from. TypeKit’s free plan offers support for 25,000 page views a month and after that the charges range from $25 to $100 a month. If you use the free service, a badge will also appear on your pages.

I must admit I was a little dubious of these kinds of services, but after seeing TypeKit used on a site I work on for some months now, I can honestly say it’s been flawless.

In case you’re wondering if using these web font services can negatively impact on your search rankings, they won’t – as long as the text your visitors are seeing is the same text that Googlebot “sees”; you should be fine (thus spaketh Google’s Matt Cutts).

Just for those of you new to web design – trying to use different fonts available on your own computer aside from common typefaces such as Arial, Times New Roman and Verdana is risky. If the person viewing your page doesn’t have those same fonts, the results can be very unpredictable. The font replacement services mentioned are a different situation as they store fonts that are referenced by a web browser; helping to ensure the page looks the same to whoever is viewing it.


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