Switched to Geomanist: a free font

Recently I came across a free font by Atypo font foundry. I got hooked from the first moment.

The regular and Italic version is free to use and looks just the way I like my fonts: minimal and beautiful. The text with Geomanist flows effortlessly on the screen, suggesting a premium look. If you’re on a budget, but want something unique, I think it’s worth looking at it.

Oh, and let me correct myself: the font is free, in the sense that no money changes hands. You can pay for it with a tweet or a Facebook share. Check it out for yourself.


Behind Smashing Magazine’s New Design – The Font

The recognized Smashing Magazine has been around for a very long time, and during this time, there has been quite a consistent design approach to it. In fact, I can only remember one design prior to the current one from 2012 to 2017.

I liked the old design a lot. To me, it was very organized, minimal yet reader-friendly. If they had sold that theme after they have switched their design, I would’ve been among the first people to buy it. It is no exaggeration that it is one of my favorite website designs of all time.

In this article, we’re going to cover the new design, with the font selection in focus.

The Old Smashing Magazine Font

Proxima Nova, probably one of the most popular premium web fonts out there was in use on Smashing Magazine.

No wonder that if we search for “Proxima Nova”, one of the results on the first page will have ‘free alternatives’ in the title. Yes, I’m guilty too. I was looking for free Alternatives in the past as well, just to learn that there are no real free alternatives.

Most sources mention Montserrat – a free Google Font. Montserrat is not an alternative for Proxima Nova as far as I see it.

The beauty of Proxima Nova is that it fits perfectly with any type of design. The text flows effortlessly with this font. Not many fonts can say the same about themselves if any.

The Redesign of Smashing Magazine and its New Font

In late 2017 the new design was rolled out. With the new design came a new set of fonts.

Say hello to Elena.

Elena is also a premium font, that fits in pretty well with SM’s current look, but I do find it less readable to the eye than Proxima Nova.

From my perspective, the previous design was unique, it stood the test of time and was strongly associated with the Smashing Magazine brand.

We all need a design that speaks about our brand instantaneously.

The New Look or the Old Look?

For me, certainly the old look was more appealing.

Looking at the fonts only, Proxima Nova was a clear success in the site’s history. For anyone looking the answer to the question above, I’d recommend going with Proxima Nova.


Font pairing: PT Serif and Source Sans Pro

Google Fonts might not be the best when it comes to speed, but there is a vast selection of fonts, and they are free. Consequently, I like using Google fonts. A lot. Not surprisingly, two Google fonts are used here on Web Factors as well.

Serif and Sans Serif

The main font used for the content is PT Serif. It’s a widely used, popular font on the web. The reason I love it, it’s because it goes very well with white space. I can make the font size pretty big and easily readable, but still, keep it visually neat.

The other font in use is Source Sans Pro. This is used in the header area where the menu is, and the sidebar. It gives a very good balance to PT Serif’s “Serifsness”.

Other examples where the same pairing is used

You may have heard the saying:

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

C. E. M. Joad

Sidenote: many attribute this quote to Albert Einstein, but according to Quote Investigator, this is rather an assumption, and there’s more evidence that the original source was the above gentleman.

Anyway, the reason for the above quote is because I won’t be hiding my sources here. Truth is, I was inspired by Copyblogger to use PT Serif, and some Sans Serif font on the side.

So in case, you like the font pairing you see here, now you can create the exact same look when it comes to fonts.

Of course, it will also depend on your website design whether this font pairing hits the mark or not. If you are in doubt, get in touch with me and let’s figure it out together what font pairing suits your project the most. Also, check out my general design recommendations and typography tips.