There was a time not too long ago when all the fonts on the web were pretty much the same: Arial, Courier New, Times New Roman, Comic Sans, Impact, Georgia, Trebuchet, Webdings, maybe some Verdana. But with advances in web technologies over the years, websites can throw pretty much any typeface they want at their visitors. So which fonts are the most overexposed, and which ones are still relatively obscure? Fontreach is a new tool that tells you, by crawling the top million websites and looking at what fonts they call for.
Here’s how it works. Go to Fontreach and start typing in the name of a font, say, Impact. Fontreach will then pull up stats about that font’s usage on the web. In the case of Impact, it’s used by 11,133 of the top million sites on the web, making it the 47th most used digital typeface. Clicking on the font gives you a breakdown of which of the biggest sites are using it. You can also view a numeric ranking of the top fonts on the web, which isn’t very surprising at the head of the list (Arial, Verdana, Helvetica Neue are the top three), but gets a lot more interesting the further down you scroll. Ever heard of Cufon, Oswald Stencil, or Love Ya Like Sister? Some sites depend on them. You can even search by domain name.
Fontreach is more than just a cool web toy, though. It’s a useful tool for designers to quantify their understanding of the web, and justify their decisions with hard data. As Chase writes on Medium, web designers are now getting access to hard statistics to back up their gut instincts. “Having certain information at our fingertips can better prepare us in making decisions that shape the web of the future, he writes. “Be it a library, a font, or other usage information, we should have the tools necessary to identify trends in how we build the modern web.”