Until recently designers were extremely limited in typeface selections for the web. While we learned to creatively use the limited palette of fonts that are available across browsers and operating systems, we (understandably) craved more. Though embedding fonts with the CSS @font-face rule has long been possible, licensing restrictions deflated this possibility. In recent years, a number of services have popped up, working with type foundries to host and serve web fonts for designers. These services allow you to expand your repertoire to include a nearly infinite range of typefaces ranging in both price and quality.
Typekit is also committed to improving the state of type on the web. They work with type foundries to improve hinting and rendering across platforms and browsers. They also regularly publish type resources to the Typekit blog.
Pricing: Annual subscription based. Plans range from free to $100 annually, with the most common plan costing $50.
Google Web Fonts
About: Google hosts and serves a collection of hand picked open source web fonts. This is a great solution if you are just beginning to experiment with web font services.
About: Similar to Typekit, Fontdeck’s service offers a collection of really high quality typefaces. Where Fontdeck truly differentiates itself is in its pricing model. Rather than offer a flat rate subscription model, you pay an annual per font fee. The price per font varies, but is typically around $7.50 per year. This a great option if you plan to pass the long-term maintenance costs off to the client.
Pricing: Varies per font. Typically $7.50/year per font.
About: Webtype, founded by Roger Black, primarily serves up some really nice typefaces developed by Black’s own Font Bureau. Additionally, Webtype offers a handful of typefaces from Monotype, Ascender, and Microsoft.
Pricing: Monthly subscription. Plans range from $10 to $100 per month.
Pricing: WebINK’s pricing model is a tiered approach. It uses a “type drawer” metaphor for adding fonts to your site and then prices based on the quality of the font library and the amount of data transfer per month. Plans range from $.99 per month to $59.99 per month.
About: Fonts.com offers big-name type families from Linotype, Monotype, ITC, and more. Plans range from free to $100/month. Fonts.com is unique in that the $100/month Professional plan includes a number of monthly desktop downloads so that you may use the typefaces at all points in your workflow (such as when designing Photoshop comps).
Pricing: Monthly subscription with three options (Free, $10, or $100 per month). Only the $100 per month option allows desktop downloads.
Pricing: Per font one time fee. Ranges from free to $15.
Additional Web Type Services
Several foundries have sprung into action, offering their own web font services, unique web licensing, or working to integrate with an existing service. Below is a list of some of the more popular foundries to take this step.
Each service offers unique pricing and a variety of different typefaces. For better or worse, there is not one solution that trumps all others. Be sure to consider which pricing model makes the most sense for your or your clients (free, subscription, or per font) and review the typeface selections offered by each service. It’s an exciting and empowering time for type on the web!