Extensis, the outfit known for its font management software Suitcase/Fusion, launched a web font service called WebInk in August 2010.

After a quick snoop around WebInk’s website the two main differences when compared to Typekit are JavaScript not being required to run, and pricing structure.

If you’re a Typekit user like me you’ve been adding two script tags to every page that uses web fonts. Not particularly efficient. WebInk simply uses the @font-face rule in your CSS to load fonts from their server, like this:

@font-face {
font-family: Grotesque;
src: url('http://fnt.webink.com/wfs/?drawer=SSDFR111-0000…&font=ANRVDHQ-VFDSN…');
}

BUT, (that’s a big but btw) one of the benefits of Typekit’s script is that it hides the Flash Of Unstyled Text (FOUT) by concealing the text until it’s ready to display styled. Ironically WebInk provides a script called FOUT-b-gone via its blog to fix this, so technically their “No JavaScript” claim is BS. The problematic browsers in question are IE 7-9 and FF 3.5 and 3.6. Other modern browsers have already pulled into line, so eventually FOUT will be a thing of the past, the script can be deleted and we can all forget it ever happened.

The next main difference is pricing. Typekit charges an annual fee, WebInk is monthly. Typekit calculates bandwidth based on page views, Webink on the actual amount of bandwidth that’s been used serving the fonts (at least that’s how they distinguish it in their plans).

WebInk’s pricing plans:

If you’re hosting a personal site that’s getting less than 5000 visitors a months, Webink would be the marginally cheaper option at $23.88 to Typekit’s $24.99. Negligible. WebInk’s monthly pricing means if your bandwidth varies wildly from month to month your fee will too – check your credit card statements. Typekit state on their pricing page if your bandwidth is exceeded they’ll contact you to recommend a different plan. It does give the impression that WebInk’s fee is more prone to fluctuation.

Typekit’s pricing plans:

Obviously other factors such as font libraries and their browsing experience, and account management also needs to be taken into account. WebInk isn’t ground breakingly different enough to Typekit for me to switch my existing sites over. I’m keen to give it a go on a future project to fully understand the subtle differences.

Personally I also prefer Typekit’s website to WebInk’s (seriously guys, Futura?). Any product or service whose customer base are designers can’t afford not to be obsessive over their aesthetic presentation, and I find the WebInk site a little gloomy. Was using Futura a conceptual statement? It’s a classic typeface but it just doesn’t work for me in this context. (Jim Kidwell from Extensis points out that the fonts used are Proxima Nova and Foco, my bad.)

Typekit.com and WebInk.com

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