There are so many font sites out there that for the first time searcher it’s kind of over-whelming. You need time on your side when choosing the right fit for your design work. I think UrbanFonts.com is the first font site that I’ve taken a decent look at through my blog posts, and I’m doing so after they paid ReviewMe for my time.
This might be a sponsored post, but through reading it you’ll discover what I believe to be the main areas for improvement for UrbanFonts.com.
Here follows the first impressions of a graphic designer
I hadn’t heard of UrbanFonts before, so my clickthrough via the ReviewMe website was the first glimpse at their service. To be honest it didn’t strike me as anything great design-wise. What I’d love to see from a font website is an understanding of simple design principles, such as the grid. Better yet, some nice display of typography. Here’s what the header currently looks like:
To explain what I mean I’ve added a couple of white guidelines running horizontally from the top and bottom of the text logo. See how they cut through the search box?
Maybe at that size it’s not so obvious so here’s another sample where I pulled both logo and search elements together.
See how both elements aren’t aligned to eachother? By proportionately increasing the logo size to fill this space you’ll create a better balance of design. There’s plenty of space in the header for a change. I’d love to see a different header altogether but this is probably the most straightforward way to improve it.
It’s understandable that a website displaying a collection of fonts should choose a text only logo, but I fear there wasn’t much thought put into this one. The kerning (space between each letter) is off.
Okay, I’ll stop being so harsh and applaud UrbanFonts for an easy-to-navigate, clean site structure. Now, on to what really makes a good site, it’s content. With over 8,000 freeware fonts you’ll be kept very busy searching for the right one. An aspect I enjoy with this site is their rollover font preview, shown below when I moused-over the Retro section:
I must admit, when I saw the request to review a free font / dingbat website I thought twice. There are so many around that I’ve come to not pay much attention. As a designer I tend to stay clear of the free sites, opting for paid font families. I was pleasantly surprised upon clicking UrbanFonts top 100 tab to find a few within minutes that I’d definitely consider downloading (available for both Mac and PC). Here’s a snapshot of how the fonts are listed:
A few nice distressed fonts are included, such as the BASE 02 one shown at the top of the screenshot. When you hover your mouse over each font name the site gives a display of all the letters in the alphabet which is a nice little feature.
Check this out for another nice touch. You can custom preview text of your choice, in a colour of your choice. You can even change the background colour if you so desire (the preview below is for the BASE 02 font already mentioned).
Sure, the text could do with some kerning (the space between the A and V in DAVID is horrendous) but it’s a free font so don’t expect perfection.
One thing that kind of puts me off is the mass of third party advertising surrounding the content. It’s a pet peeve of mine. It could be dulled down somewhat, but all-in-all I like what I see from UrbanFonts.com.
The main sections in the site are:
Areas for improving from a design perspective
A nicely designed logo would help, along with a more interesting site header.
How about adding a contact form to the contact page? All that space should either be filled or ditched. A mailing address wouldn’t do any harm. Sure, the chances are slim that anyone’s going to write to you, but people like to know about people. I’m interested where the site owner is based, who they are, what they look like. There’s room in the horizontal nav bar for an ‘About UrbanFonts’ or ‘About us’ page.
Advertising – cut it down, or at least choose it carefully. I clicked on the UrbanFonts blog and the first thing I see is an advertisement for Cancer Research UK. Some of the ads are garish too. No-one wants to see seizure-inducing animations with text flashing from white to red on a dark background.
There’s a link in the site footer called ‘links’. This is another pet peeve of mine. So you’re linking to links? I’d prefer to link to further resources or something like that. There’s no point in linking to links.
Choose the ‘featured free fonts’ very carefully. Three fonts are displayed prominently on the homepage as ‘featured fonts’. They alternate over time so I wonder how they’re chosen. This is the site’s showcase, the first impression on the quality of the free font collection. Make it good. Make it better, because I wasn’t tempted to choose any of the six I saw during the time spent reviewing the site.
To sum it all up
The overall feel of the website could use some work as I think it’s a little plain personally. Some aspects listed above would help give a more professional look. The functionality behind the site is impressive however, especially considering that most of what’s offered is free.
I’m glad that UrbanFonts approached me for this review because I’m pretty sure I’ll add a few of the freebies to my own font collection.
What do you think of my first ReviewMe venture? Have I been too critical? Missed anything obvious?