Technology Review: Fontdeck

Fontdeck is the brainchild of two companies, Clearleft, a web design firm in the U.K., and OmniTI, a Columbia, MD-based software developer. Compared with the other services here, it’s refreshingly simple. No need to juggle price plans or calculate font bandwidth—you just pay a flat annual fee for each font, regardless of site traffic.

The procedure for selecting and using the fonts is similar to those of the other services. You can browse the font collection by style, tag or design classifications such as Baroque or Neo-classical. The range of tags is almost overwhelming—I count nearly 500—but you can easily ignore them. The irony is that this is a relatively small collection, with just 412 font families as of late November (if only Monotype had a system like this for its 8,000 fonts).

Once you select a font and assign it to a project, the service generates a link code and CSS rules that you can paste into web pages. You can specify a localhost domain if you want to test the fonts on a local server. Users of Dreamweaver CS5 can preview the fonts in Live View mode.

Annual pricing begins at $2.50 per font, with the average being $7.50. I must have expensive tastes, because the fonts I chose for testing—Cochin in Roman, Bold, Italic and Bold Italic styles—cost $12.50 each.

The bookkeepers at HOW will be glad to know that I took advantage of Fontdeck’s trial plan, which makes each font free for the first 20 visitors to the website (based on IP addresses). So you can mock up a website, share it on a local server with clients or other team members, and then pay only when the site goes live. I think most designers will prefer this over Webtype’s 30-day trial, which can easily expire in the middle of a project.

Fontdeck lets you search for fonts by style or tag.

These fonts were tagged as “Baroque.”




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