Google Fonts: What are they? (Part One)

Web designers were delighted in 2010 when Google launched a website called Google Fonts, offering hundreds of free open source fonts, available for anyone to use. The fonts are optimised for the web, which means they are ideal for using in web design. Like any website for free fonts, it’s a fantastic resource for designers in training as well as those with years of experience, as it means they have access to a great range of professional quality fonts without needing to pay to use them. Google Fonts is easy to use, enabling web designers with any level of experience to make use of the fonts on offer.

Why use Google Fonts?

Through Google Fonts, you can create a portfolio of your favourite fonts, ready to use whenever you need them. This is known as a Collection. The Google Fonts website has great functionality that helps beginners and experts alike get a feel for how a font would look on their page, which both saves time and improves the look of their final design. Sites such as Font Pair have sprung up to help web designers determine which fonts would match well together.

Why are Google offering fonts for free?

Before Google Fonts was launched, many web designers wondered why none of the big players in the internet business hadn’t bought the rights to a selection of fonts before. It’s such a useful resource, that it would drive huge amounts of traffic to their website, and makes for an excellent goodwill gesture to keep up the positive reputation of Google with web designers, an important demographic for a company in their industry. A site like Google Fonts also requires little input, monitoring or updating from Google staff. Once set up, it pretty much runs itself.

By becoming associated with fonts, Google are taking on one of their biggest rivals – Microsoft. Through their word processing programme Microsoft Word, Microsoft have become the best-known creators of fonts. If you asked the average person to list a few examples of fonts they know of, they would most likely be fonts found on Microsoft Word, such as Arial, Comic Sans MS or Times New Roman. These fonts were all designed by Monotype Corporation and licensed to Microsoft for use in their word processor.

The future of fonts

In 2015, as Microsoft are challenged for their dominance in computer technology by companies like Google and Apple, a new generation are growing up perhaps never using Microsoft Word and never becoming familiar with their fonts. This gives Google the chance to become the go-to place for fonts, and for the fonts they own to become standard. Giving web designers access to a wide range of high quality fonts for free means that those fonts are becoming commonplace across the web. When you ask someone to list the fonts they know in ten years, it may well be a list of Google fonts you hear.

Look out for more articles on Google Fonts coming up this week on our iFactory blog, including our favourite fonts and advice on how to use the website. If you’re looking for web design specialists, get in touch with us to find out more about the wide range of web design and development services we offer here at iFactory.

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