I was supposed to co-write an article with Jessica Hische on the topic of Google webfonts but I opted out due to a lack of time. I do plan to do one myself on this service but now I’m thinking I’d like to get her perspective on it as well. We’ll see.
There is one thing I want to know, which is about what factors make some fonts doesn’t look good on a small size, while others can. Whether this depends on the file size, the operating system or the font shape…
> Whether this depends on the file size, the operating system or the font shape…
Letterforms and the OS do take effect on legibility for text type but also “Delta Hinting” or “TrueType hinting” help with the rendering at small sizes. There are many articles on this topic around the web, including on Typekit. Because hinting is such a long and tedious process, many opt out of doing it manually and go for a faster (and more horrible outcome) called “auto-hinting”. A lot (not all) of webfonts in Google’s library are auto-hinted. But this is one reason why I don’t take Google webfonts seriously or consider them “true webfonts” as they are not optimized for screen use. Webtype does a fantastic job with their RE series.
> I know for some people typography isn’t easy to understand.
For me, I think the question might be “why should we care”? That isn’t coming from a point as a challenge, but I think that typography is new enough that I still feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. I’m not sure what I should learn and care about. I try to make good design choices, but they may fly contrary to how the look should end up. I know some basics, but I don’t really know how or why to care about something deeper than that.
I’m really interested also – the questions raised are good ones I’ve also been wondering. For me it’s more about learning what kinds of things I should actually be looking for since I just don’t know.
That just might be my opening line for one of my articles. Really interesting perspective, Josh. Thanks for chiming in.
I’ll leave it at this for now: One of the reasons as to why we should care is that over 90% of the web is text. The most important part of our own websites is based on text content. Many designers and developers think choosing type is a design decision when it’s actually quite technical. Just as developers test their website on multiple platforms and browsers, the same practice should go for web type (especially on Windows).