Web Font Service Roundup

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

URL: typekit.com

About: Typekit is perhaps the most popular web font service and serves web fonts to some of the world’s biggest web sites (New York Times, Twitter, and Wordpress.com to name a few). Typekit uses javascript to publish fonts to you site. Popular type foundries include FontFont, TypeTogether, Adobe, and Veer.

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

URL: google.com/webfonts

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.

Pricing: Free

Fontdeck

URL: fontdeck.com

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.

Webtype

URL: webtype.com

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.

WebInk

URL: http://www.extensis.com/en/WebINK/

About: WebINK is a web type service by the folks at Extensis, the makers of the font management tool Suitcase Fusion. WebInk is fairly unique in that there is no javascript needed to serve the fonts, instead you add a specific @font-face CSS rule. WebInk has a solid collection of typefaces from top type foundries such as Adobe, Jan Fromm, Mark Simonson Studio, Typetogether, and more.

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.

Fonts.com

URL: webfonts.fonts.com/

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.

Kernest

URL: kernest.com

About: Kernest offers a range of free and commercial fonts. The commercial fonts can be purchased for a one time fee ranging between $9 and $15. Unlike the other services, Kernest does not use javascript. Simply reference their external stylesheet in the head of your HTML and then adjust your own CSS to include your new fonts.

Pricing: Per font one time fee. Ranges from free to $15.

Additional Web Type Services

Type Foundries

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.

Conclusion

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!