Once again, Google and Monotype are teaming up to make the web a dang sight prettier.
Typecast, which was acquired by Monotype last year, is a web-based tool for web and mobile design with a heavy emphasis on beautiful, legible type. And now, a version of this tool is available free of charge to design pros and hands-on learners alike via Google Fonts.
“There’s a much broader audience where people are designing for the web for the first time — students, hobbyists,” said Typecast’s Paul McKeever in a call with VentureBeat.
“All those people turn to Google fonts because they’re accessible and free, and it’s an easy way to learn more about typography.”
Let’s take a look, shall we?
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The web-based app, said McKeever, “allows you to quickly express design ideas using type. … It makes the content the core of the design. It gives visual designers an easy way to learn about the design process.”
From a company statement, here’s how the free-for-all Typecast will work:
The award-winning, premium version of the Typecast application enables typographic experimentation without the need to hand code or use expensive design software. In this new public version, users are able to select any font on the Google Fonts website and then follow the link to the Typecast application. From there, designers can work with that font (and the complete Google Fonts library) on text of any length and use a wide range of type controls to build clear, readable type systems through adjustments such as font size, weight and line spacing. Designers can also work with Web fonts side-by-side to quickly see at a glance what’s working and what’s not.
As for Adobe’s cloud-friendly lineup of design tools, McKeever said, “We share the same aspirations, and what we’re doing is really complimentary. People shouldn’t just stop using Photoshop … Creative Cloud is incredibly viable.”
The love of typography has somehow become part of nerd culture. Identifying typefaces, picking out favorite fonts, buying metal type, getting an ampersand tattoo, watching Helvetica more than once: all these are signs of type hipsterism.
“Written language is an integral part of our culture,” said McKeever. “Couples spend an inordinate amount of time crafting the type on their wedding invitations, because the way you present your written content says a lot about who you are.”
And after all, it’s the type-obsessed layperson who’s changing the way we do design online.
“The web is going to be made by professionals, but a lot more often, it’s being made by people like you and me without a formal training in typography who just want to make something for themselves,” McKeever said.
“In fact, most of the people we look up to as web designers are not formally trained. They’re self-taught. It’s about making things on the web and learning by doing. The best way to become a web designer is to make a website.”
Finally, it all comes down to quality. Tinkering with web fonts with a lightweight application is just part of a much broader trend in web design where digital mimics the aesthetics of print and calling a mobile app “magazine-like” is high praise.
“Type has a lot to do with that,” said McKeever. “So many of the good ideas on the web today draw their roots from our past in print publishing. And it used to be that web design was just an extension of print design.
“Reproducing the quality of the experience is the aspiration, but in the future, having that kind of experience when you’re not sure what screen the user has is going to be more and more difficult. And that’s where type becomes really important.”