It’s been six years since Google first unveiled one of the world’s largest, free web font services. Their easy-to-use interface was instrumental in bringing what was often considered a brittle technology to the masses. Since 2010 the service has steadily grown in both library diversity and scale.
Recently the service received a full make-over, bringing a more streamlined way for you to preview fonts and get up and running in no time.
But is it actually better? Let’s take a look.
A Polished and Updated Look
I certainly believe that the overall look and feel of Google Fonts has improved. One of the first big things you will notice will be that the whole site uses Material Design. Gone are the thick borders, low-resolution graphics, and bright blue buttons. These are replaced by subtle animations and interactions helping you to focus on narrowing down your fonts.
The updates to the visuals are pretty impressive, but what’s also good is that the site is now fully mobile responsive. The previous version of the site didn’t handle smaller resolutions or resizing gracefully, leading to lots of random UI bugs that made the site look weird / remove functionality.
On the right, as the screen gets smaller you can see we lose the ‘Preview Text’ input field making it impossible to get a live preview of our text. Also, as the screen gets narrower the action buttons start to cover up both the font name and the author, eventually vanishing entirely.
The legacy site has been around for a long time and provided a heap of functionality so we can generally cut them some slack. It’s refreshing to see that the new site looks great and works across all device types.
Dynamic Theme Chooser
One area of concern for designers was choosing a font which works well across different foreground / background colors. Sometimes a font might look great when it’s black on a white but then could be next to impossible to read when a bright color is used.
Google added a custom color chooser right at the top of the site. When clicked it provides a quick swatch of colors to let you preview how your fonts will look. You can use this to see how your fonts will pair up when used on dark / light backgrounds with dark / light text.
Even though you can’t precisely specify the colors you want, this is a nifty tool that everyone should use when picking out their fonts.
Showcasing Featured Fonts
Featured Fonts are a brand new introduction to the updated Google Fonts website. Accessible right from the top menu, these featured fonts are collections of fonts that Google wants to highlight. These collections are created by either Google themselves or by outside agencies to showcase a particular design style or philosophy.
Currently, there are only a few sets of featured fonts, however, it would make sense if this range will increase in time as more fonts are added and the previous Google Fonts website is discontinued.
A Supercharged Inline Font Selector
The main experience with Google Fonts is how to preview and select your fonts, some would argue this is the most important part of the website.
Previously, when viewing your fonts you would see something similar to the diagram below – a simple preview of text with a series of action buttons. Your view might look different depending on how you’ve filtered your search but generally, it’s a simple square box with a series of actions a big blue add button.
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