Are system fonts making a comeback?

System fonts

Ten years ago, web designers created sites using system fonts. For example, let’s say a designer chose Arial as their main font. In this case, they knew that Arial comes standard on Windows and Mac OS, so the website would look the similar on both operating systems. However, if they chose a font that wasn’t a default operating system font, they could run the risk of having the site display differently – as the font would be missing and automatically switched for another. Designers were limited to which fonts they could use, as Windows and Mac only shared about 8 fonts.

A few years later, designers started experimenting with Font Face, a handy method for embedding custom fonts. All of a sudden, the web became much more creative. Beautiful fonts could be used anywhere, and designers weren’t limited to 8 fonts. However, a major drawback to this method was file size and server calls. Embedding fonts meant asking each user to download a unique font when they visited the site. This meant more data being loaded, and more calls to the server to get that data. For some, the reward was worth the risk – a slightly slower load time but a more unique design.

Today, some 60% of all websites are embedding fonts this way. But as trends usually go, things are starting to come back to system fonts again. This article explains it in depth even more. What do you think? Will system fonts make a complete comeback? Or will font embedding continue to be the norm?


author avatar
Mark Skowron

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