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Web fonts open door to new languages

In a new post on his blog, programmer Tom Morris provides an interesting spin on the importance of web fonts. He argues that the web design community can be a little bit narrow, and that web fonts are about far more than visual design and the potential benefits to type foundries.

The linked post includes a paragraph from a page on Malayalama Wikipedia and Morris explains that one of the biggest benefits of web fonts is in opening up the web to more languages.

“The reason [web fonts are] vitally important is because of the key role of typography. Typography is to make things readable. And they currently aren’t for hundreds of millions of people around the world because there are many, many languages that don’t have fonts,” he points out, adding that there are 35.9million people who speak Malyalam, but until recently they couldn’t use the web in their own language.

Morris asks what’s more important to the world: that smartphone users in the web have a “‘beautiful user experience’ with pretty typography”, or that the “‘rest of the world’ as we so frequently call them can actually read and write on the web?” At .net, we’d argue that these things are not mutually exclusive, but his post is a helpful reminder that web fonts aren't just about eye candy.