It used to be that web designers were very limited in the fonts they could use on a website. Basically, the font that a web designer used on a website needed to be installed on the end user’s computer in order to be viewed properly and that narrowed down the list of acceptable web fonts to just about only Arial, Verdana, Georgia, and Times New Roman.
Not too exciting.
However, with the advent of CSS2 and CSS3, custom fonts in web design and development are now possible.
The concept is pretty simple: you include a font-face rule in your code, upload the web font files to the web server and a designer can render custom fonts on a web page – regardless of whether the end user has the font installed or not.
Custom fonts open the doors for more creative web design
Custom web fonts have many design advantages over the old standard web safe fonts of the past. Custom fonts can jazz up a website making it more visually appealing and can add to making a site look more unique and stand out from the zillions of websites today.
However, as with traditional design techniques and rules, don’t go overboard. It’s best to limit the number of different fonts used on a website to less than 3 different font faces. Using one font for headings and another for body text is a good rule. And remember it is always important to ensure that your fonts are easily readable on screen!
Keep in mind that not all fonts can be used on a website
There are a lot of free resources online for web fonts and downloadable web font kits, but remember that fonts are protected by copyright laws.
Traditionally, fonts have been licensed for use on a single computer and most standard licenses won’t apply to use on the web. For the most part, you can’t just take a font you have on your computer, turn it into a web font and upload it to your website.
Whether you are using a font that is free for commercial use, or you have purchased a license for a font, always check (and double check) the license to be sure of how you can use it. Be absolutely sure that whatever custom fonts are used on your website are properly licensed for your web use – otherwise, you could be violating copyright laws.