Cufon or TypeKit: Why We’re Switching
Text replacement is the method of hiding the default style of text and replacing it with something which would otherwise be impossible to show. Up…
*Strictly speaking, the CSS method of using typefaces otherwise unavailable to the user is not text replacement at all, but I’m including it because it is still in the same category of using typefaces on the web which before we could now.
What this meant for designers & developers
The advancement of these aforementioned technologies meant the designers (such as myself) and front-end developers were able to expand their horizons – with the only restrictions being that of tough licensing rules. Fortunately over the past few months, more and more type foundries are rewriting their licenses and loosening their grip on licensing so that people are able to use online providing that they buy the correct license.
What’s even better is that services such as TypeKit and FontDeck have appeared and are constantly improving; providing their users with an ever-growing library of fonts without the need to buy a license — just by agreeing to a certain set of terms and paying a monthly or annual premium. This is much more cost-effective, but does have some down-sides which I will discuss in a little while.
Why we don’t just stick to Arial & Verdana
Your website is a marketing tool and for many people is their main source of business. Design is beginning to play a huge roll in how users and even search engines (since the previous Google “Panda/Farmer” update) will notice if you have an attractive site. By no longer restricted your designers to a certain number of fonts on your site, it will improve usability, accessibility and the aesthetic. Most importantly, it’ll help you stand out from the crowd.
Cufon vs Typekit & why we’re switching to TypeKit*
We’ve been using Cufon since the launch of our brand new website last August, but have been having a few problems with it. There are advantages and disadvantages to both TypeKit and Cufon but following meetings and research we’ve found Cufon to be much more bulky and slow in comparison to TypeKit.
Reasons we’re moving to TypeKit:
- Licensing: With TypeKit, we pay a yearly fee which gives us access to thousands of fonts without needing to buy a license for each font we use.
- Betters our service: The amount we pay per year means we can also use TypeKit on our customers’ websites – so our clients’ are getting a better service too!
- Faster & “Lighter”: The level of control we have over the fonts means that all of the scripts and files required only come to a total of around 150KB in comparison to the 500KB which we are using at the moment.
- Better for the user: Any text replaced by Cufon becomes un-selectable and therefore cannot be copied-and-pasted if needs be. Switching to TypeKit means that if someone wanted to select an entire page of text, they could without any problems.
- Saves us time and money: The simplicity of TypeKit means we can quickly and easily put a kit together and deploy it, rather than searching for .otf or .ttf files, uploading them etc. With TypeKit all we have to do is select the font, choose a few perimeters and paste two lines of script into the head section of our website.
A few regrets we’ll probably have:
- Designing in Photoshop will become more difficult: For fonts which we do not own, it’s now impossible to see what it’ll look like in Photoshop before we put it on screen. This often means buying desktop-only licenses which are cheaper, but still cost money.
- Deployment of kits is often slow: Whilst TypeKit is generally very quick, it can sometimes take more than 5 minutes for a change made in a kit to appear online.
*Whilst writing this article, we’re still using Cufon.
Conclusion – TypeKit or Cufon
For us, TypeKit is a perfect solution. We can serve it to all of our clients and our own website and utilise it well and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. However, for those of you who have licenses to allow Cufon and aren’t going to need a huge library of fonts, Cufon would be okay for the short-term.
Written by Jason John Mills