Anyone else out there experimenting with Typekit?
If you haven’t already heard, Typekit is a hosted service that allows you to use different fonts on your website using a method that is accessible, standards-compliant, and legal. Before Typekit, if you weren’t content with the usual Verdana / Helvetica / Georgia / Times, you either had to use images or Flash (both very bad ideas for many reasons, trust me on this), or one of several “image replacement” methods, none of which is perfect and all of which are somewhat complicated to implement, or you could link directly to the font, which works perfectly except that it’s a violation of the type designer’s intellectual property rights. That is, you’re stealing. Just like you’re stealing when you download an image without the owner’s permission.
Typekit offers a way to link to the font without violating copyright. The way it works is, you choose from a variety of fonts which are specially created and licensed for this use. Of course there is a catch, though, and the catch is, you have to pay for the service. However, they have several price levels, including a free trial version. Furthermore, the folks at wordpress.com have made it super-easy to implement Typekit fonts on your blog. If you go to your dashboard and look under the Appearance menu in your sidebar, you’ll see that now one of the choices is Typekit Fonts. Just click to sign up for your (free trial) account and you are good to go.
Soooooo…. if you stopped by this blog in the last twenty four hours or so you might have noticed some typographic weirdness as I experimented. I tried a bunch of different fonts, everything from handwritten scripts to business-like sans serifs to goofy display faces to traditional text serifs. Ooooh what fun!
I do, however, have a few complaints.
- No preview function. You can’t see what the new font will look like until after you hit publish. Yikes. Just because the font is your dream come true on the sample page, doesn’t mean it won’t look like crap on your site.
- You can’t change the font size. This is only a problem because wordpress.com doesn’t give access to your CSS unless you pay for an upgrade. Typekit on a self-hosted blog would not have this issue. But still. I did have to discard some font possibilities that would have been great if only I could have made them just a tad bigger.
- The Typekit editor doesn’t remember your selectors. For the Cutline Theme, if I want to change the whole site to a new font, I have to specify at least nine different selectors (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, p, li, ul#nav li) and there are probably others I’ll need that I haven’t discovered yet. Since there’s no preview function *cough* it could well turn out that I chose a crappy-looking font. But when I delete that font and install a new one, I have to type in all those selectors again.
- HUGE flash of unstyled content. Well, not completely unstyled content, but when you refresh the page, the entire thing loads showing default fonts first. Sometimes there is quite a long gap, a second or two, before the page suddenly rewrites itself with the new font. Very unprofessional. Also, it means you have to be careful to check your font stack so that what you see during that gap isn’t totally ugly. (And there are a few browsers that don’t support Typekit, so those guys will see whatever is the default all the time.)
- Potential for abuse. Okay, this is kind of snotty of me, I admit. But one of the things I truly adore about wordpress.com is the aforementioned fact that it doesn’t give you access to your CSS. Sites hosted at wordpress.com are so (relatively) clean and beautiful because there is very little you can do to screw them up. At least, compared to Blogger blogs. But as Typekit gets more popular I’m afraid we’re going to see more and more blogs in illegible curly scripts or God knows what. *sigh* At least you are limited in the total number of fonts per site, so hopefully we won’t see too many crazy combinations.
In conclusion, Typekit, as implemented on wordpress.com, no it isn’t perfect. But it’s definitely fun to play around with, and I wouldn’t say the jury is out yet. If you’ve been experimenting with it, too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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P.S. OMG! I just discovered something. If you type the word “wordpress” with an uppercase W, it automatically converts the P to uppercase as well. Not sure how I feel about that, actually. Impressively sly and clever, but I’d just as soon decide for myself what gets capitalized on my site, thanks.