Googles new font API

This has been a long thing coming in my opinion. Until recently we have been restricted to using default system fonts for websites or using images. Google has recently introduced a new way of including fonts into websites http://code.google.com/apis/webfonts/. This means we no longer have to use the standard system fonts Arial and Helvetica (these are standard fonts because every PC comes with Arial and every Mac with Helvetica), so what does this actually mean?

Well first thing is when using images for special fonts, it reduces the amount of information search engine crawlers can grab from your website. Using this tool means we can eliminate the need for images but still have the custom look of non-standard fonts, this means that search engines can look through all your content. A very awesome thing when considering SEO.

Second, this will definitely improve the accessibility of your website. Screen readers are a big help for people who want to use a website but are visually impaired. Screen readers (much like search engine crawlers) cannot read an image so you have to choose between, visual appeal or restricting some content from people who need a screen reader.

Notice the difference? This is the standard system font (Arial or Helvetica)

And the text below is an Open Source font called Volkorn provided by the Google API

Volkorn Google Font – Not an Image

Currently Google only offers a few fonts (they have a list of about 18 open source fonts) which you can see them displayed here. But I’m sure as more font developers learn about it they can submit their fonts to Google and the list will grow. There is also a paid service (Typekit) that provides more fonts, if you aren’t happy with the free fonts provided by Google you can always check out Typekit.

This is bridging the gap between accessibility and design and I can’t wait to implement this in some of our designs.

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About Steve

Steve Worley was the lead developer at Web Circle, a progressive Brisbane / Gold Coast web design agency with a relentless drive to discover and implement "what works on the web". Check out the Web Circle People page for more info.

One Response to “Googles new font API”

  1. Eden May 29, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    Another alternative is sIFR. It’s more complex to implement but it can be used with any font. http://wiki.novemberborn.net/sifr3/

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