The Evolution of Animated Fonts

Animated images, letters and words are nothing new in the world of web and graphic design. Using GIF files or Flash have been standard in combining the static information displayed on a website with visual effects to help emphasize an important point or draw attention to a website’s message. As a rule, animation and animated fonts are embedded files on a website, rather than elements that have been standardized for cross-browser compatibility. However, there are changes coming to the world of web and graphic design that may be able to incorporate actual fonts that move, flash or otherwise highlight their own message as easily as using standard fonts like Arial or Georgia.

A font is a specialized image typeface that conforms to certain sizing and style requirements. It is these requirements of size, shape, serif or design that require special attributes and rendering assigned to its design. While an image can be stylized prior to embedding it on a web site, a font must be able to change “on the fly,” thus limiting its ability to be animated as an actual font. With recent advances in graphic design education, technology and programs, however, creating animated fonts is now within the reach of any dedicated graphic designer.

There are those, however, who find that too much animation, flashy things, banners, ads sounds and movement may take away from the credibility of a website. Since web design has come a long way from falling snowflakes and MIDI files, a return to “retro” design is not always in a web site’s best interest. This includes incorporating animated fonts, logos or images into a web site's static content. Some even believe that there is a “banner blindness” factor in websites that prohibits people from processing anything that my resemble an ad, including animated graphics and animated fonts. If that is the case, then animating anything on a website is a costly exercise in futility.

Beyond the practical application of animated fonts in web design, for those who are professional graphic designers, the idea of animated fonts may seem appealing as a way to combine their animation skills with a new twist on typography. The newest animated font, Moshun, is a perfect example of a graphic designer using current technology in order to bridge the gap between animation and typography in a functional way. Only time will tell if animated fonts will become a standard in web design.

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