Web fonts are amazing tools that can enhance website design and improve readability, but if not used correctly, they can also slow down your website’s loading time.
How Web Fonts Impact Your Website’s Performance
When you load a web page, your browser must send a request to the server for all the resources the page needs. This includes the HTML, images, and fonts. The more requests your browser needs to make, the longer it will take for your page to load.
This is where web fonts come in. If you have too many web fonts on your page, your browser will need to make more requests, which will slow down your page load time. Not only is this bad for user experience, but it can also impact your website’s search engine ranking.
That’s why it’s important to optimize your web fonts. By reducing the number of fonts you’re using, you can speed up your page load time and improve your website’s performance.
The good news is that optimizing your web fonts for performance is a pretty easy process. Here are ways to help you get started:
1. Audit and Monitor Font Use
The first step is to audit and monitor the Font used on your website. This will help you identify which fonts are used and how much bandwidth they take up.
It’s vital to be aware of how much bandwidth each Font uses so that you can decide which ones to keep and which ones to lose.
You can use a tool like the Web Font Loader to help you with this. It’s a free, open-source tool that helps you monitor how your fonts are loading.
It also allows you to load fonts asynchronously so that your page will still load, even if some of your fonts take longer.
2. Subset Font Resources
By subsetting your font resources, you can significantly reduce the bandwidth used on your website and make the overall experience for your users faster and more reliable.
When you subset, you select only the characters you need from each Font. This way, instead of loading the entire font file, your browser will only load the characters you need for the specific page or element you’re viewing.
If you’re using a web font service like Typekit or Google Fonts, you can subset your fonts by selecting specific character sets when you set up your project. If you’re using self-hosted fonts, many great tools and scripts can help you do the same thing.
3. Use Modern Font Formats
Not all font formats are created equal. Some formats are downright outdated. That’s why you’ll want to use modern font formats whenever possible. These formats are more efficient and perform better across browsers.
What are modern font formats? Essentially, they’re fonts that have been compressed and optimized for the web. They load quickly and look great on any device. So, how can you use them on your website?
There are a few ways.
- One is to use a web font service that provides modern font formats. This is the easiest option, as the service will cover your heavy lifting.
- Another option is to use a font format converter to convert your fonts to a modern format. This can be a bit more complicated, but it’s worth it if you want to use custom fonts on your website.
4. Loading Web Fonts Asynchronously
Now, let’s move on to the fourth optimization tip: loading web fonts asynchronously. This is a great way to ensure your site loads quickly and without interruption.
- By loading fonts asynchronously, you’ll be able to prioritize other page resources first before loading font files.
- That is, by creating a session of queued requests for web font files, you’ll be able to get the fonts you need in an organized, efficient manner.
- This will reduce the time it takes for the font files to load, resulting in faster and smoother site performance.
It’s a bit technical, but luckily there are plenty of tutorials and resources to help you get started with this technique.
5. Implement Cookies
If you want to further optimize your web fonts, then implementing cookies is a great way to do it. Cookies are small data files that are stored in the browser. They can be used to remember things like user preferences, authentication information, and more.
When it comes to web fonts, cookies can help speed up the loading process of your fonts.
- By adding a cookie with the font files you need, you can tell the browser which files to download first and then download other files later as needed.
- This helps reduce bandwidth usage and significantly speeds up your pages’ loading time.
It’s important to note that cookies should not be used with every page font resource–only when necessary. You don’t have to worry about this too much, as most browsers will cache font resources independently without the need for cookies.
6. Limit the Characters in Fonts
If you want to optimize your web fonts, it’s important to limit the number of characters in them. The fewer characters in a font, the smaller the file size and the faster it will load on a page.
That being said, limiting the characters in a font is not always possible. Some fonts may have hundreds or even thousands of glyphs, which can take longer to load.
However, if you don’t need all those glyphs, you can try using a subset of the Font that only contains the characters you need.
7. Use a Preload Header
To bolt web font loading performance and smooth rendering, a preload header must be implemented as soon as possible.
- This header helps the browser download web fonts faster, even before the CSS is delivered.
- Also, preloading the web fonts ensures they’ll be available in the cache once used in the project.
Use it to preload your font resources. Make sure you use an appropriate media type, such as font/woff2 or font/woff, to describe your font resources when you preload them. The browser can then prioritize these resources, even if they are not immediately used in your project.
8. Caching Is the key
Caching is essential for any web font optimization strategy. The main edge caching solutions — such as Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront — have tools that you can use to easily cache web fonts.
When caching web fonts, setting the appropriate expiration time is important. This will ensure that browser requests go back to your caching layer and not directly to your server, resulting in faster page and Font load times.
As a rule of thumb, I generally set an expiration time of between one and three months for my cached fonts, depending on how often they change.
If you’re not already using some edge caching solution, I highly recommend implementing one for optimal font performance. Edge caching solutions improve page speed and provide a better overall user experience.
1. What are the best practices for optimizing web fonts to reduce loading time?
- For web fonts, keep the fonts you use to a minimum and use web fonts that are sprites.
- Use a CSS @font-face rule, or apply a variable font to the element with styles.
- Give web fonts a fallback font that loads before the Font used in the stylesheet.
- Try these mentioned ways to optimize your website.
2. How can I ensure that web fonts are properly compressed to reduce loading time?
To optimize your websites for optimal load times, look into web fonts. Learn more about web fonts with these resources:
* [Web fonts: a primer](https://www.useit.com/alertbox/web-fonts-primer) * [Web fonts](https://hackernoon.com/web-fonts-whats-the-diff-between-regular-and-bold-1be219e86e36)
* [Web fonts: a primer](https://www.useit.com/alertbox/web-fonts-primer)
3. What are the best tools and techniques for testing the loading?
There is always room for improvement, and there are always ways to test your site’s loading. You can take the help of tools like PageSpeed Insights and Google’s Lighthouse.
By following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to select fonts that look great on your website and load quickly without causing any delays.
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