Free Webfonts that Don’t Look Fuzzy
As noted before on this blog most fonts including webfonts look fuzzy these days. That’s bad for readability and ultimately for your bottom line.
Using just Helvetica and Arial won’t suffice anymore. You really have to use webfonts now.
Sadly the few really good body text fonts made for the screen are paid ones. The price often depends on traffic.
At the end of the day you may end up paying the same amount of money for typography you invest in web hosting.
I have been testing both paid and free webfonts for several months now. The good news: there are a few (just a handful) free webfonts that are quite OK. Even designers use them in their projects.
I want to show you the few good enough web fonts. Remember that I refer to body text. For headlines more webfonts look great. For example I use Monda on SEO 2.0 here.
Montserrat has been made possible by a successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s great both for headlines and body text. It’s looks readable and is pleasing to the eye.
There are two issues with Montserrat though. What is offered as a regular font is de facto semi-bold.
When you display your body text in 12px or 14px the font looks pretty thick. The other issue is the capital “G”. It can be easily mistaken for a “C”.
Source Sans Pro
Source Sans Pro is an open source font and webfont by Adobe itself. Adobe is of course one of the most well know brands when it comes graphic and screen design.
Who doesn’t know Adobe Photoshop? So you’d expect a high quality webfont wouldn’t you? It’s good but it isn’t very good.
It’s not fuzzy and remains readable even in small sizes but some characters like the “a” look a bit pitiful then.
Still this is one of the best fonts you can get for free and most websites these days use larger font sizes.
Lato is an open source font from Poland. Lato means summer in Polish. Originally Lato was made for a large corporate client.
Luckily for all of us the client finally rejected the design. Now Lato is even approved by the FTC for use on the government site.
You can see that there was substantial work invested into that font. The “a” looks a bit crumped though.
Open Sans is the free open source font by Google. It doesn’t look really good but it’s not bad either.
When it comes to readability this font will be good enough to display body text. Many blogs use it because of this. See here.
What are the drawbacks?
Are there any drawbacks? Yes, did I mention that it doesn’t really look good? It’s readable and that’s just it.
Both Adobe Edgefonts and Google’s webfonts let you use these fonts from their servers.
Alternatively you can download them elsewhere and host your webfonts yourself. That’s a bit more complicated though.
Take into account that by hosting webfonts with Google you give the search monopolist even more data about your sites.
In case you use Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Google+ you probably don’t care for privacy anyway though.
While none of these fonts are perfect, they are made to be readable on the Web
They display well even in case the default Windows font smoothing is switched off. Your current font will surely fail in at least one of these use cases.
Have you tried OpenFontLibrary.org? Fonts are nice and clean and they are linkable from their servers. I have used a font from this open library for a web design client a few months ago. The user experience was great.
And well– this is my number one place to get fonts now. :)
Lato is an interesting font. I’ll have to experiment with it as soon as I have a minute.
– Luana S.
Thank you for the heads up. Indeed I have overlooked the Open Font Library completely until today. Trying it now. http://openfontlibrary.org/en/font/news-cycle looks promising. Let’s see whether it works as body text.
Another site that I use for fonts is http://www.fontsquirrel.com/
They have a wide range of great fonts that you can use for commercial purposes.
Nice font choice, Tad! Reminds me of a mix of Arial Narrow and Verdana. :)