When it comes to branding your business and websites, fonts and typography are one of the first design elements to nail down.
The fonts you choose will really set the tone of your website and depending on how you use them (e.g., headers vs body), the effect could be totally different. Think about how different a site would feel if you used an old-school, goofy font like Comic Sans as opposed to a classic, professional font like Times New Roman. The vibe of your brand goes from one end of the spectrum to another super fast when you mix up the fonts!
I've written before about my secrets to beautiful Squarespace typography, which is a great introduction to fonts and typography, so if you haven't read that post yet, I suggest you start there. Once you've covered the basics, it's time to dive in a little deeper to the wonderful world of fonts and typography!
In this article, I'm going to share my thoughts on free and paid fonts, how to identify fonts you see online or in print, and point you towards some of my favourite places to purchase fonts online (as well as what I avoid). Be sure to watch the video tutorial for a visual walkthrough or read the rest of the article below for the full experience.
Note: want to watch more of my Squarespace video tutorials? I've linked to them at the bottom of this post or you can head over to my Youtube channel to binge them now. #aintnoshame
Let's dive right in!
Where'd you get that font? Free vs paid typography
Keeping track of your favourite fonts
If you like a font on a site, research it and make note of it! Personally I've experimented with running lists in a Google Doc and the Notes app on my laptop and both are great options. You can also use a font identifier like WhatTheFont! or Fontspring Matcherator to see what font is being used.
Once you've identified fonts you like, you'll have a better understanding of which ones go together and how they might make up your branding choices.
Fonts and Squarespace
Let's say you've identified the fonts you want to use on your website - yay! Next step is to see where you can get them.
If you're using Squarespace to run your website, you're probably already familiar with their (incredible) list of fonts that are available for free (see it here). This feature is awesome because you have access to an insane number of high-quality fonts and they are already available on any Squarespace template that you're working with.
If you decide to use one of these fonts, you simply select it from the Style Editor and set each font as you'd like.
Somewhere along the line you might decide to change your font (perhaps because of a rebrand or website overhaul) and lucky for you, it's super easy to do so.
A word of the wise about Squarespace fonts: it can be hard to create a truly unique brand if you decide to use only the free fonts that Squarespace offers, especially if they are popular choices like Raleway, Helvetica Neue, or Opens Sans. That's not to say that you shouldn't use a free font from Squarespace's list, but you should consider it if you're aiming for a truly unique brand and style.
Free vs paid fonts
It's important to research and choose the right fonts for your brand, which might mean purchasing one or more fonts.
Free fonts can be perfect choices, but they can also look DIY or less thoughtful depending on which ones you use and what combos you go with. Also, brands can look really similar without premium fonts. This is particularly true if you're going with classic or popular brand colours and are relying heavily on stock photography. A premium/paid font can help set you apart in this case.
The great news is that there are loads of places where you can purchase fonts online and there are often discount codes available to help make them more affordable!
Best places to purchase fonts online
When I'm looking for premium fonts online, I turn to the following resources:
- Hoefler & co
- Typekit (free with Creative Cloud membership)
- My Fonts
- The Designers Foundry
- Colophon Foundry
You'll notice that I did not include Creative Market or Etsy above and that's because the quality is a mixed bag on those sites. Some fonts (particularly on Creative Market) are wonderful but others are pretty amateur. Since there's no standardization on those sites and anyone can upload a font and sell it, you can get some great stuff as well as some crappy stuff. Also, it's common to see fonts from those sites explode in popularity (like Medina did a few years ago) so you'll see it all over the place, in which case you might as well have just used a free font from the Squarespace library and saved yourself a hassle.
Choosing the right fonts for your brand and website is a serious design element that you want to get right from the start. Luckily, there are many resources available that will help you make the right choices, identify the fonts you like, and get them up and running on your website. If you decide to work with a designer (like me!), they will guide you through this process, but you can totally take this on if you are doing it all yourself.
Whether you use on of the fonts included in Squarespace's list or decide to go with a paid font, you're making a conscious decision that will change how people perceive your website and brand online. Both are great options so long as you make strong choices and thoughtful font combinations!
Now that you've learned a little more about where to get fonts for your website, I'd love to hear from you. Which fonts do you use on your website? Where did you get them? What made you decide to go with a free or premium font? Leave me a note in the comments!
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