Download Free Fonts from Urban Fonts

The following is a paid review. Please note: my time is being paid for but my opinions are my own.

Urban Fonts is a fairly new free font download site that aims to make finding free fonts (and dingbats) a little less painful.

Using this site is definitely a much-improved experience compared with the usual pop-up ridden, ad splattered free font sites.

The site is cleanly designed and has a number of helpful features to make it easier for you to find the right free font.

And of course, if you can't find one they provide you with the option to (shock, horror) actually purchase a font, although this is done via affiliate links to Fonts.com.

It's easy to browse fonts and to quickly see if one is going to work for you. Mouse over a font preview and the whole alphabet is displayed in that typeface.

Urban Fonts has a large collection of fonts (they claim 8,000) and they seem to have all the usual suspects — which also means they have a lot of crap that you have to wade through (much like any other free font site).

Although they have a top 100 list of fonts, the 8th most popular font is a Walt Disney rip-off, so I don't know how useful this list is going to be to the serious font-seeker.

It would be useful to be able to view the most popular fonts in each category rather than have a single, global list. I'm sure there are other filtering options that could be implemented to make it easier to hone in on the decent fonts.

Another problem for a cash-strapped web designer who might want to use a font for a commercial project is that while most fonts are freeware, shareware and linkware fonts are also included.

However, there is no way of knowing the license until you have downloaded the font and can view the readme file accompanying it. It would be useful to be able to filter fonts by license.

The home page, while attractive to look at, is not as useful as it could be.

I really don't understand why the 'Top Searches' tag cloud has been given such prominence when it seems to have very little use, especially as the font browser by font type has been well implemented.

Likewise, the 'Featured Fonts' on the home page (at the time of writing) are going to be of little or no use to most designers.

But I'm really nit-picking as the site does its core job well (i.e. present fonts clearly and cleanly) and it's easy on the eye to boot. One for your bookmarks.

Visit them today at http://www.urbanfonts.com.

Posted on: February 7, 2007 | 4 Comments

Recent Entries in "Tools & Resources"

4 Comments Posted

The tag cloud is actually great for people who don't know quite what their looking for. It's a way to get passive viewers into the content. This is true for most sites that it's used on.

P – I'm not sure I'd agree with you. The tag cloud is based on top searches, which may or may not have any relevance to what I'm looking for, even if I don't have a very clear idea.

Tags such as "add city boy" and "selfish" are of no use to anyone except for the person searching for that term.

As far as the other tags are concerned, some of them are repeats of what's already in the category listing and others are individual fonts. I would suggest that the prominence given to this tool is disproportionate to its usefulness.

You're missing the point. If you were a passive viewer, you weren't "looking" for anything... relevance isn't part of the equation. Tags such as "add city boy" and "selfish" will drop off the tag cloud when site statistics deem them unimportant. Add City Boy, if it is indeed a top search, must have some relevance even if in your opinion, it doesn't. It is infact the actual name of the font... is it too wild to think that people are searching for something by name? If Helvetica popped up in a cloud would it also be meaningless?

Has it occured to you that people surfing a free font site, probably have no clue about fonts to begin with? Maybe they just got done with 3 hours on MySpace and are just surfing the web for fun. People aren't always looking for "tools" to operate at maximum efficiency. If grandpa is surfing the web, sipping on a Sprizite and just enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon, he certainly isn't looking to find a font as fast as possible. UrbanFonts appears to be peppering grandpa with a hailstorm of automatic tag fire, and if one of those tags hit the mark and grandpa enters the site... mission accomplished. For web pro's like you, you have your search and categories at the top.

No, still don't agree, although I appreciate the passion of your argument.

For a start, I don't believe the typical user of this site is a 'passive viewer' — i.e. someone who is not searching for a font (is that what you are implying by this term?)

As for your second argument about 'grandpa', this type of user (i.e. not tech-savvy) is exactly the wrong sort of user to whom to target tag clouds. In my own testing of tag clouds, most people don't understand what they are for and therefore ignore them.

It's actually the 'web pros' like me that would be inclined to use a tag cloud — if it were useful.

This being the case, and given that home page real estate is so valuable, Urban Fonts would be much better off doing something else with this section of the page, such as listing the top 10 fonts.

Sometimes I wonder if the tag cloud may be too big, however, i do find the information displayed there quite relevant.

For visitors it's a good way to see what's hot and what's not. Because the tag cloud displays all successful searches, it also shows the commercial fonts which do not appear in other sections of the site such as OUR FAVORITES and TOP 100, so you have a clear idea as to what's happening in the font world.

Thanks for the valid comments ;)

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