How many times have you been frustrated by the limited options for typography on the web? For those of us who are supposed to be experts at building the visual parts of brands and communication programs, the fact that there are only twelve typefaces available for use in html text (NONE of which we would ever intentionally choose for a brand) has been maddening. Well, that’s all about to change with the launch of Kernest a web typography tool developed by designer and web user experience expert, Garrick VanBuren. I was present for a very well attended presentation earlier this week at Minneapolis Apple dealer, The Foundation, where Garrick unveiled his new tool to an eager audience of designers and developers.
Kernest gives designers and developers access to over 400 typefaces (a number that will grow exponentially very soon as licensing agreements are secured). It also gives type designers and foundries a new venue for their products. Type designer Chank Diesel was at the Foundation event to help with Garrick’s pitch and he’s understandably enthusiastic about the potential this holds, “Discriminating designers are sick of seeing the same ten fonts on almost every website. Today’s web developers want the ability to create HTML-formatted text using any font of their choosing. There are lots of fonts to choose from, y’know. And readers are a lot smarter than you’d think; they can still read a passage even if it’s not in one of the fonts that everybody else uses.” (quote taken from Chank’s blog)
Even though the technical issues with web typography are being resolved, there are many hurdles in the font licensing and trademark areas which are still pretty foggy. Foundries have been notoriously (and understandably) cautious about allowing access to their catalogues. But one has to believe that—once they see the potential of these new development tools—the big foundries will be eager to find a solution that will give designers and developers access to their fonts.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, this is an ideal example of a designer identifying an unmet need and developing a unique solution. Typography for the web is an emerging category that will undoubtedly become crowded very quickly; TypeKit and FontDeck are two start ups that have announced, but have not yet released, similar tools. Garrick has a strong proposition with Kernest, and his bootstraps operation has allowed him to move swiftly and beat the bigger players to market.
Garrick VanBuren will be at the TypeCon 2009 conference in Atlanta this weekend (July 14-19).