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2011 was a bumper year for typography and design. There were great advancements in font technology as well as the sheer variety of fonts available. I foresee 2012 being a great year for fonts and typography, wherever they are in use.
Continued push toward the Web
We start off 2012 with thousands of typefaces now available for use on the web. With over 100,000 estimated fonts in existence, we can only expect the number available for use on the web will continue to expand.
Not only will you see more of them, but web fonts are only getting better technology-wise. If it’s not self-evident, not all web fonts are created equal. Due to differences in how operating systems and browsers render fonts on screen, many web fonts won’t display well at all sizes on screen, especially on Windows. These same fonts may function just fine at print resolutions, but often the same font files don’t work well on the web.
In 2012, I expect to see in increasing number of fonts that are designed specifically for the web. These fonts will be designed from the ground up to take advantage of the unique display characteristics of monitors, operating systems and browsers.
Web font wild west
With the expansion in selection, just like the early days of desktop publishing and the Apple Macintosh, expect to see some unfortunate misuse of fonts by web designers. I fully expect to see:
- Way too many fonts used on a single page
- Mismatched body copy and headline faces
- Fonts used at too small of a point size for the typeface
- Column widths in responsive design that are far too wide for optimal reading in the selected font
- Self-hosted web fonts displaying improperly due to browser auto-updates
Of course, like what happened to desktop publishing, you’ll eventually see a pull back toward quality and core design principles. We can only hope that it happens sometime this year.
In the past many people treated fonts like they were free creative building blocks that came with other software, or from a friend. While many are now beginning to understand that fonts are software, and need to be licensed for specific uses, not everyone has gotten the message. We saw NBC Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Rick Santorum’s design agency sued for millions of dollars this past year.
With many organizations not fully aware of their legal exposure, combined with increased enforcement, we will very likely see at least a couple more high-profile lawsuits this year. Organizations who haven’t felt the need to track their font use will implement solutions to distribute approved resources to users, and lock down machines of non-creative users to prevent unauthorized fonts from being added.
In short, it’s going to be a good year in typography. Play by the rules, and you will be rewarded with gorgeous typography for your creative work.