10 Google Web Fonts That Aren’t Lame

  •   Leeann Pica

By Leeann Pica

Choosing a web font doesn't have to break the bank.

Let’s start things out with a dish of honesty. Although it is improving, the Google Web Fonts service has a long way to go before it can compare to other type services in terms of font quality. It is, however, a great place to start. Since many projects don’t include much of a budget for type exploration, Google Web Fonts is great for comping – it’s fo’ free. I often use a Google Web Font (GWF) to define the feeling that I want the typography to evoke in the early stages of a project before buckling down and finding the real thing. This is not to say that I haven’t ever used an actual GWF for a project – I have used Raleway, Lato, Josephine Slab, and Open Sans.

Generally, if the font is right for the project, there is nothing wrong with using a free GWF. So, how do you know if the font is right? There are a few things to consider:

Does the font have all the necessary weights?

Some GWFs only have one (or two) font weights. Be aware of the font’s family size. For example, if you are only using the font for a headline, it might be fine that the font only comes in bold, but that of course wouldn’t work for body copy.

Steer clear of single use fonts in multi-use situations.

There are a lot of free fonts out there specifically made for one type of treatment. Be careful not to choose one of these as your site’s anchor font. The font you choose should work in a multitude of treatments and as a headline in 96px, as well as body copy at 14px.

Is it a trend?

There is nothing wrong with being a “trendy” designer – things become trends for a reason –  but font choice is one thing I try to resist the urge to go with the popular choice. Choosing a popular font to use in your design will probably mean that by the time your project goes live, the font will be overused. Try to stick with a font that’s a classic, and if you want to go with something different, choose something that is still new and fresh to the scene of web design.

Ten Google Web Fonts you should consider for your next project:


1. Open Sans

A humanist sansserif typeface designed by Steve Matteson, Open Sans is a classic sansserif with five weights with italic available in each weight.


2. Lato

Designed in the Summer 2010 by Warsaw-based designer Łukasz Dziedzic, Lato has five weights, including a gorgeous super thin hairline weight.


3. Raleway

An elegant sansserif typeface family. Initially designed by Matt McInerney as a single thin weight, it was expanded into a 9 weight family by Pablo Impallari and Rodrigo Fuenzalida in 2012 and iKerned by Igino Marini. Raleway does not have an italicized version.


4. Josefin Slab

Following the 1930s trend for geometric typefaces, Josefin Slab followed the originally designed Josefin Sans, both by Santiago Orozco.


5. Josefin Sans

As mentioned, designed by Santiago Orozco, Josfin Sans is a round geometric typeface.


6. Ubuntu

The technical font design work and implementation of Ubuntu is being undertaken by Dalton Maag.


7. Vollkorn

Designed by Friedrich Althausen, Vollkorn has dark and meaty serifs and a bouncing and healthy look. This font only comes in two weights.


8. Arvo

By Anton Koovit, a geometric slab-serif typeface family originally created for screen and print.


9. Droid Sans

Designed by Steve Matteson, Droid Sans was designed with an upright stress, open forms and a neutral, yet friendly appearance.


10. Droid Serif

By Steve Matteson, The Droid Serif font family features a contemporary appearance and was designed for comfortable reading on screen.


Thats it! Don’t be shy when it comes to free Google Web Fonts, there really are some great ones out there!

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