Web Fonts Now and Then

Font is the basic building block of the worldwide web and web design. Over the last 10 years, web font design has evolved into different creative parameters. Web font has changed radically so has web design. There are many popular fonts these days which did not exist 10 years ago when web font design was in its infancy. And the trends are yet changing as we enter into 2020. Before checking some awesome fonts to use in 2020, let’s take a quick look at history of web font and its characteristics.

Typography has evolved significantly from its origins. Many graphic designers and typographers have had their influence on the development of the fonts we see today. Giambattista Bodoni, known as the father of typography, created a style of type called “New Face”, which is a style where the letters are cut to produce a contrast between the thick and thin parts of the letter. Bodoni’s typefaces reflected his aesthetic sense represented in the simple forms and plain style. It was not possible for the other typographers to stay unimpressed by his typography. Bodoni died on November 29, 1813 at the age of 73 in Parma, Italy.

By the end twentieth century and the rise of digital devices, typography entered to a new era. Fonts makes up 95% of web design so no typography no web. Web fonts have been a point of discussion since 1998 or at the introduction of Explorer 4. In the early days of the web, web designers knew the importance of font typography. The early web and the browsers that operated on the web were all text so font was the most important element on each page.


WOFF (the Web Open Font Format) is a web font format developed by Mozilla in concert with Type Supply, LettError, and other organizations. The font data is compressed, so sites using WOFF use less bandwidth and load faster than if they used equivalent uncompressed TrueType or OpenType files– came along in 2009, which was then adopted and implemented.

There was a limitation put on users even though they could see the font they were using on webpages. But the limitation was the font had to be downloaded on the user’s computers. You better believe that users were not able to download the font types for free either. They paid for them of course. Another hindrance was there were many platforms across the web in the early days. There were multiple operating systems and browsers so the choice of fonts were limited and they were not guaranteed to work.

Along comes Microsoft who changed how the font game was played. They approved and released two web recognizable fonts Verdana and Georgia for free and they took into account of the limitations of how browsers functioned in those days. The fonts looked fabulous on a digital screen. But the accessibility of fonts was still limited. Web designers had only around 10 fonts to choose from. These were the ones they could be sure that browsers could render.


One of the early rules of font was the development of the font-face which allowed web designers to incorporate into the HTML file-CSS2. This was the the ability for designers to attach a URL to a web page to load the font. This revolutionized the way web users used the internet. The big breakthrough was even if a user did not have the font loaded on their device they could still view the text with an alternative font.

Internet Explorer was the first to use the font-face then Netscape started using it as well. This allowed web designers to use customized fonts which allowed them to use many new types of fonts. Netscape implemented the font-face known as digital fonts they used a closed-source format known as TrueDoc from BitStream.  But Microsoft went in another direction with their font format.

Microsoft was ahead of the curve. They used what was known as Embedded Open Type (EOT) which they had already used in Microsoft Word. The system used compact files which were faster to download. Another reason they chose EOT was because it was encrypted. It could not be downloaded from the web and used in other applications; this protecting Microsoft from cyber theft. One big weakness of web fonts in those days was universal accessibility. Website owners could use the web font without acquiring a license to legally use it.  Eventually, this major issue was resolved to the relief of big companies like Adobe.

Web Fonts in 2020

Here we’ve gathered 5 most exciting typography trends of 2020 along with their characteristics which make them so wanted both for web designers and web users.

Humanizing Serifs

This font brings a very human touch to the digital age we live in. It adds a personal touch to a very impersonal digital age. This expert believes that humanizing serifs will bring a personal touch to major brands who use this type of font in 2020. This humanizing font brings back nostalgia of simpler times. It tells stories of days gone by when the world was much more human and personal. Where people used to talk face to face with one another. This type of font touches the depths of the human soul reminding us that we are still human and not digital machines.

Round sans Serif

This type of web font brings to the digital age a clean and very round look. The font is bold, clean and very round as we mentioned. Do not mistake that these fonts can look childish in  style. They truly are straightforward and so easy to read. You cannot miss or ignore this bold type of 2020.

Swiss Style Font

Type designers are reaching into the past and resurrecting a type that was made famous by iconic Swiss designers in the 1950’s. The unofficial name is “Swiss style “which is a simplifying style for the digital age. It is a clear, concise, understandable, and bold all at the same time. It was popularized on billboards, posters, and old-fashioned pages. But its adaptability is remarkable in the digital age. It is very readable on digital web pages blending perfectly with the digital age.   

Rustic Fonts

Humans will never let go of the old-fashioned rustic style font. A blast from the past this font is a genuine handwritten style that has mushroomed into may customizable fonts on today’s digitized web pages. Rustic will never become rustic and these old-fashioned styles remain fresh in today’s age. It seems that handwritten styled fonts will never pass away. They will keep reappearing in modern forms.

Wide-Open Minimalism

We find that these types of fonts fit right into the heartbeat of the electronic age. Everything is compact, packaged and impersonal. This generic font fits right into that theme. Designers keep the messages to a minimal by designing letters that are bold, stubby but the designers don’t fully complete letter forms. They leave out parts of letters to create more space drawing outlandish attention to individual letters. The spaces between the letters are more expansive but each letter stands out boldly to create the modern minimalist look.

We have shown you the 5 best fonts that you can use for your website. Now that you know their characteristics and usage, it’s time to decide which is the most suitable option for the style and tone of your website.

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