Google launched Google Fonts in 2010 to provide web fonts free of charge. Over the next six years, it grew considerably, becoming very popular with web designers—for the obvious reason of affordability. The original website was definitely what the startup world would call an MVP: a minimum viable product. It got the job done, but it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t especially easy to use. As an increasingly design-oriented company, Google evidently saw that a major UI/UX redesign was in order. restructuring the google fonts website Mockup of a component of the new Google Fonts website, via GoogleIn June they released a brand new version of the website, and it is glorious. Here we’re going to take a quick tour that will tell you what you need to know to use this service intelligently, whether you are a newcomer or a Google Fonts veteran.
First, we need to breeze through some basic questions. What is a web font, anyway? Rewind to the dawn of the modern Internet: 1996. At this point, if you’re a web designer, the only typefaces you can reasonably select are the special leads that you can be sure every personal computer owner already has installed on his or her machine. If a visitor does not have the typeface you have used on your website, they have to download it on the spot, which in the days of dial-up, is a no-go. In ’96, Microsoft decided to do the Internet a solid by distributing a selection of fonts for free, including Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana, in order to increase the stock of viable typefaces for web designers to use.
The web starts looking nicer, but you still mostly see the same typefaces over and over. If you come across something more unique, it’s probably an image file. Fast forward to 2009. A CSS program called font-face arrives, making it viable for the first time for website visitors to download font files on the spot without too terrible of a download time. Fonts that are made to interact with this software are called web fonts. Are Google Fonts really free the catch.