With the insurgence of web typography over the last few years, a lot of us have been asking when we could expect a font service from Hoefler & Frere-Jones. It looks like the wait may be coming to a close. This week at least two sites have been spotted using a private beta version of their ScreenSmart fonts – and as we may have expected, they look really good.
The official Barack Obama website is using Gotham which renders exceptionally well. They have definitely spent a lot of time making Gotham render well even at small sizes. Like most web typography it renders better at larger sizes (16px) bu we scaled it down to 10px and were surprised by how crisp it looked.
Kottke.org is the other lucky tester that I’m aware of, and is using Whitney, another beautiful sans-serif, once again set large-ish for big passages of reading.
When H&FJ does finally release its service I’ll be interested to see if their entire catalog is available. I would assume not. However, the new Readability app for iOS also offers their fonts (Sentinel, Vitesse, Mercury, Whitney and Gotham Narrow) which makes me think we may have some pretty good options right off the bat.
Paying for it
All this appearance of great screen type in the last week makes me extremely hopeful, but I’m also aware that it may still be quite a while before we get the service we’ve been hoping for.
But one thing is for sure – when it does come it won’t be cheap. H&FJ have never tried to produce low price fonts for mass distribution. This is actually a selling point to me though. I will be more than happy to pay more to have high quality fonts on my websites, especially if that means that they aren’t on every other website. Ii could be a good point of differentiation.
Whatever the future holds, I can’t wait, and I’m sure I’ll be putting them in to use the first chance I get.