Typekit vs. Google Fonts

I think it’s been over five years since I blogged my last battle, ColdFusion vs. PHP.  Hopefully this post will be met with much less criticism.

It’s hard to be a developer and not be unaware of Typekit or Google Web Fonts.  Both services provide excellent alternatives to the standard fonts available and both services are now supported across all current browsers.  For those of us who attempted to build our own fonts for using @font-face on our own projects, these services are a dream come true as the process what tedious, cumbersome and didn’t always process the desired result.

First, lets do a quick comparison:

Typekit Google Web Fonts
Fonts 700+ 500+
Implementation JS JS, link, @import
Selection Quality Excellent OK
Finding Fonts Excellent Good
Cost Varies* FREE

Google‘s interface is simple and very easy to use. Implementation couldn’t be simpler than copy and paste. The Page Load meter, a feature unique to Google Web Fonts, is a pretty nice feature as well, letting you know when you’re starting to go overboard and/or get carried away.  I think one of the downsides to Google Web fonts though is the overall quality of the fonts.  Many of the fonts there are just… weird; not fonts I’d want to use on a website anyway.

Typekit‘s interface is beautiful, intuitive and simple to use. Implementation isn’t as simple as Google Web Fonts, but is by no means difficult using the “kit editor” popup. The added steps are due largely in part to Typekit keeping track of your pageloads and the sites where you use the fonts… also why you’re limited to including the fonts in javascript as opposed to other methods. The only real drawback to Typekit over Google Web Fonts is the cost. As a full-time firefighter and part-time developer, nearly all my work has become volunteer work. At $50 annually, even I can afford the “portfolio” account for the unlimited websites. With the numerous small-business-esque websites I create with minimal bandwidth, the 500k monthly pageview limit hasn’t been a problem yet, and one I don’t forsee.

Despite the fact both services are nothing short of awesome, in the end my favorite is Typekit which I turn to for most of my web font needs, particularly for personal and small business sites. However, for the several enterprise level sites I’ve created and maintain, I’ve steered clear from Typekit to avoid what becomes an astronomical fee (the “Business” pricing for Typekit isn’t even listed… scary) and used Google Web Fonts, which has been plenty sufficient. I kind of look at Google Web Fonts as the clipart collection on 50 CDs I bought as opposed to the expensive subscription to Getty Images or iStockphoto. I think if Typekit were ever interested in becoming the dominant web font provider (and maybe they are already… I don’t know), it would do them well to combine “Portfolio”, “Performance” and “Business” and eliminate the pageview limitations altogether.  Nevertheless, Typekit remains my favorite for the time being.

One comment

  1. JD Lasica says:

    Rick, thanks for your analysis, which prompted me to register for a TypeKit Portfolio account today. Some of the fonts they offer look awesome.

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