How Google Font Using Text Instead of Images Improves Search

Poster: STANCOBRIDGE | Date: 1:16pm, 17th Oct 2017. | Views: 239 | 1 Replies
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STANCOBRIDGE. Jalingo, Taraba
1:16pm, 17th Oct 2017.

Back when I first started doing web design professionally in 2001, it was common to use image files instead of HTML text on websites. Headers, navigation and buttons were almost always graphics created in Photoshop. This slowly became less common as the years went by but really started to die out once web fonts came on to the scene around 2009-2010 (although Apple still uses quite a bit of images for text on their site).

An example of Apple using images instead of text
An example of Apple using images instead of text.

The use of images in place of text is obviously bad for many reasons. Requiring a designer to open up Photoshop in order to tweak the copy on your site isn’t an ideal workflow. But for Google this is especially bad because they can’t index content if it’s inside an image.

Search is the bread and butter of Google. Improving search will significantly improve their core product. And the better their product is, the more people will search on Google and click on their AdWords ads. This seems like a pretty clear way for Google to increase their revenue.

However, the web was already heading in this “don’t use images for text” direction and although I’m sure Google Fonts played a role in speeding up that process, I feel like this goal has already been achieved.

Even if Google Fonts went away today, I still couldn’t imagine web designers switching back to using images in place of text as it’s now considered a terrible practice in modern web design. CSS3 can now accomplish text effects that used to require Photoshop and with high-density retina displays becoming common, the ability for text to scale is more important than ever.

So therefore I can’t really see this reason as a driving factor for Google continuing the service going forward. Images are no longer commonly used in place of text and that won’t change with or without Google Fonts.

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