The Future of Web: Variable Fonts

by | Jun 13, 2020

Every day, the future of web design is changing and ever-growing, and typography is no different. So once the announcement of variable fonts, and extension of OpenType, hit people’s inboxes a few years ago, the buzz about it was crazy. But, so much has changed and improved since the initial start of variable fonts in 2016. So let’s talk about variable fonts, and why they are important in today’s industry.

What Are Variable Fonts?

Before we dive any deeper, let’s talk about what variable fonts even are. A variable font is a single font file, but acting like multiple. Since it’s a smaller file, it gives you the capability to animate your font characters with ease. You will need a specific font family that has at least several variants of weights and height. It will choose a default font, most often the ‘Regular’ style in the family, to serve as the master. Variable fonts all come down to the axis points: the weight axis, or how thick or thin the font becomes, and the width axis, or how wide the font will get. Variable fonts work in a way that you can create new, more custom points between them, creating a more custom design for your website. You can compose different possibilities in width, readability, weight, italics, and style.

What Are The Benefits of Using Variable Fonts?

There are a ton of reasons why you should use variable fonts! Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider using them:

  • Load Times- Since the file is significantly smaller, load times on your pages will decrease. It also will use up less bandwidth, letting you use the space for other things for your website. 
  • Readability– You can change the weight and width of your font to fit any size screen, and modify the axis points to make it more readable on a phone or tablet.
  • Animation– Variable fonts make it easier to create animated GIFs with text. You can also make character animations using special icon-based typefaces.
  • Freedom– Variable fonts relieve some stress when it comes to customizing typefaces for the web. It gives designers the freedom to customize and design fonts however they please, without the hassle.
  • Customization– The ability to move the axis points gives the ability to adjust serifs sizes and the height of ascenders and descenders, along with the width and weight.

Okay… So What’s The Catch?

Variable fonts are still pretty fresh out on the web, so that leaves a gray area on some web browsers. Most major browsers, like Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, support variable fonts. It’s always good to have a fallback font, just in case they can’t render in the new style. Not all fonts can be used as a variable font. There’s also not a lot of choices in font families for variable fonts, so options are limited if you want to use them. That being said, every year, more and more typefaces are getting more fonts added to their families, making it possible to use for variations. Variable fonts are also being supported in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign with variable concept versions.

Using variable fonts can richen the content on your website, and make it easier to adjust later on in the future if you need an update. Every day, the future of web design is changing and ever-growing.

Here at Transformation Marketing, we believe that it’s important to keep up with all the latest changes the design world (and everything else) throws our way, so that we always have them available for our clients, and ready to implement with ease. Looking to freshen up your website, logo, social media accounts, and more? We’d be happy to help…contact us today!

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