Theme Foundry Partners With Typekit to Add Commercial Fonts to WordPress Themes

When WordPress theme shops build typography options into their themes, they almost universally opt for integrating Google Fonts. It’s no wonder, given that Google fonts are free, easy to browse and generally fast-loading.

The Theme Foundry is one of the first to step outside the box to integrate commercial fonts into their themes, via a partnership with Typekit. This is the first case of a theme shop selling a self-hosted WordPress theme that includes Typekit fonts right out of the box.

While other themes may offer support for Typekit, none have included it within the purchase price of the theme until now. Theme Foundry’s Oxford theme is their first product to be bundled with Typekit support.


I spoke with Drew Strojny, founder of Theme Foundry, to find out why they sought a partnership with Typekit. He said that it was essentially a matter of providing convenience for the customer. “Asking someone to buy a Typekit subscription to get full value out of their theme isn’t fair,” Strojny said. “So we needed to find a different way.”

Theme Foundry plans to roll out Typekit fonts across their entire collection over the next few weeks. Strojny said that Google Fonts, which they previously used, could no longer meet their design standards. “[pullquote]We pride ourselves on world-class design, and not having access to a library of commercial grade fonts was really holding us back[/pullquote],” he said. “Adobe Typekit is the de facto standard for commercial fonts, and we really wanted to keep pushing ahead with better typography and better design.”

Strojny would not disclose the details of the partnership with Typekit but said that it’s “pretty straightforward and it’s not based on sales or anything like that. Instead, we’re paying for Typekit fonts on behalf of our customers.” This removes the burden of the customer having to maintain his own subscription with Typekit. Instead, Theme Foundry keeps them on the hook with a $39 annual service fee that will allow the customer to continue to use the fonts.

The technical challenges of integrating Typekit are invisible to the consumer. “As a customer, you just authorize using your Theme Foundry account credentials, and your fonts are turned on,” Strojny explained. “We’re using OAuth 2.0 with Memberful and a custom WordPress plugin to handle all the hard stuff.” Theme Foundry customers who fail to renew will fall back to a predefined set of defaults.

Theme Foundry is the first to employ a typography service partnership in order to add value to theme club subscriptions. Whereas a customer may not always opt to renew a theme club membership for the sake of support and updates, the notion of preserving the sophistication of the typography used within the themes may be more compelling.


17 responses to “Theme Foundry Partners With Typekit to Add Commercial Fonts to WordPress Themes”

  1. I see what this is doing:
    You can only use Typekit fonts on registered domains. By connecting your theme to a domain you limit your usage to that one domain.
    Anyone thought about that, yet? Is Theme Foundry GPL-compliant? This would be a nice way around that in some ways.

    I don’t want to talk bad about them. I use Typekit myself and I really like the idea of implementing it into WP themes.

    • Good question about GPL compliance. We are 100% GPL at The Theme Foundry and this new service doesn’t change that one bit. We’re simply providing an extra service to paying customers. The theme still functions without Typekit, and you’re also free to use your own Typekit account.

  2. Personally, anything that drives standards up and raises the bar is a good move in my eyes. The same way Apple wrecked my tolerance of low pixel density screens and pushed me higher, I want to be pushed with regard to design also. As a community we are all playing with legos and there is not too much originality around.

    Woothemes set this off when they quit the lifetime updates. I think it is great I do not see how people can reasonably expect to get everything, forever citing GPL compliance. WordPress does not have the same monetization model that theme shops do. Design is worth money and beauty is worth even more.

    These have a fallback if your renewal lapses, so if it is not worth it to you then you lose the look. This introduces people to high end typography options. Typography that can cross lines from web to print and go right into Illustrator or Photoshop.

    Branding agencies have teams of creatives and make hundreds of revisions when drafting graphic standards manuals and specifying logo usage rules.

    here is one example Google has: and those four rules are just a small snapshot of what goes into good design. Rules, Margins, Appropriate Spacing the stuff that makes you stare at a design while it seduces you visually.

    In summary, my observation is that, we are going back to print design. Yup I just said it, it’s been happening. With tablets in such high use we are back to holding paper and interacting with the pages like a book. We will soon forget what a book is but we will still increasingly use tablets. This will drive us back to what works on paper. I cant help but feel like I am reading a newspaper, folding it in half and tucking it under may arm as I leave the house only doing that with my iPad.

    Until the tablet design gets defined we will move further and further back to print design. And gorgeous typography will set people apart.

    I love it and I would pay for it. #AddictedToDesign

    • Good points all around Herb! There has been so much great work done in print design throughout history, and typography has been a huge part of that. It’s fantastic to see it slowly make it’s way to the web.

      • Thanks Drew, good response time : ) I love Basis, I have been looking at it a few times a week for a few weeks now. What great use of modular design while still maintaining standards and truly clean look.

        Will you guys roll typekit into Basis?

        • You’re welcome! Glad to hear you like Basis. We’re planning to roll it out across the whole collection, including Basis, so stay tuned :)

    • Thought provoking comment Herb. Right now I’m still a little puzzled by how popular tablets are, since they are so heavy to hold. From a design point of view touch interfaces have a lot of downsides (no hover, fingers that obscure the screen, accidental touches, finger prints and other smudges on the screen to name a few). When devices come available that are as light and kinesthetically pleasing as paper, then maybe web design could merge the best of print with the best of what computing devices offer. In the mean time I’m quite happy with web powered design finding newer and better ways to deliver content experiences.

      I feel quite conflicted about how tablets and more powerful devices are shaping trends because they don’t always lead to better usability. Just today I was browsing an online news paper that had clearly tailored their articles for tablets, but the usability was horrendous on desktop. The rise of the high definition display also has lead many sites to add more kbs to their pages. Pages have gotten slower instead of faster because sites have gone a little overboard with using more & bigger assets (pictures, fonts, videos etc).

      The desire for more aesthetically pleasing layouts (tons of white space, huge pictures, scrolling effects and incredibly long pages) also may have steered a bit of group think, leading to assumptions about how people want to engage with sites. Personally, I notice myself getting ‘scroll tired’ and I notice this especially on the trendy landing pages. I’m pretty sure its psychological. I’ve been wondering about why and I think there’s a correlation between how much I have to scroll and how much I get in return in terms of information/stimuli.

      Another little thing that gets lost is the fact that people have different settings, mouse wheel settings for example can make a huge difference, but this detail is easy to overlook when designing scroll intensive web experiences. What might feel supersmooth on the iMac of a designer, may feel jolty or sluggish on the customer’s device.

      I can’t help think that when I’m browsing some of these sites, I’m actually navigating a beautifully designer billboard poster with a magnifying glass, slowly scrolling my way down without really being able to take it in as fast I want. I think it’s an example of where real world design has crept into webdesign with mixed results.

      I guess I went on a bit of a tangent.

      • Good insight Peter. It’s weird right now. I have projects where everything get reviewed on large screens, with pages that use parallax actions and full width sections, and then I also have projects where everything get reviewed on tablets and I have to add hover intent for windows 8 tablets and phones to allow the dropdown menus to work in lanscape mode. At the same time we might also be using a jquery select menu in portrait mode or the device menu (like the scrollers on apple and android).

        Depending on the goal of the website, if it is a sales website for products that would be completely different since there are so many conversion goals vs a design for a blogger who wants to end up with something easy to read.

        Whatever happens, after all the revisions I still see an increasingly large percentage of tablets viewing the website in the analytics data.

        Then when I see people using tablets they look like they are holding a book, they swipe slider like they are turning pages and when they say “hey look at this” and pass the device to someone else they act just like it is a book with the cover folded back.

        I wish we could just design and develop for desktop and phones, but when we use analytics data to drive development choices we end up giving heavy consideration to tablets.

        People may say they do not like tablets and they may say they are overpriced and underpowered, don’t do this or don’t do that but someone is online using them to browse websites and those visitor paths are the one that have the metrics which are appealing like pages per visit and paths that are in aligned with or accomplish a goal.

        My preference right now is to use a responsive design for desktop and tablets and depending on the goals of the project use a mobile specific design for phones which is optimized for mobile data and content that focus on a moving user.

        Landing pages still do best with print type of design layout. Since these are focused within a buying cycle there high engagement and the responsiveness and cross device usage is not critical if they are ready to buy, or just confirming the deal they will work through a fixed width page and click to view.

        In all this craziness I would love to see better typography that holds up across devices and then gets users attention by simply being different and more appealing to look at.

        eh maybe we just hit another tangent : )

        • Great thoughts Herb. To get back on point about typography, I agree it’s nice to see better typography. I think Theme Foundry users will benefit a lot because (and I could be wrong) but it feels that Typekit does much more to ensure that fonts render well across different setups than say, fonts taken from the google font directory.

  3. How does the licensing work? For example on your website it says that individual themes do not require a renewal. Would it be the $39 a year renewal for the Typekit like listed in the Oxford Pricing?

    • Right. The current versions do not. When we add Typekit support they’ll follow the same model as Oxford. See the pricing on the Oxford theme page for more details. Anyone on the old version can stay on the old version or pay a small fee to upgrade to the new version. If they’ve bought it recently we plan to waive the upgrade fee.

  4. That’s Awesome : ) : ) Last question (T.V. time with the wife, getting the “you coming…”)

    Do you guys have a base theme for developers? Like the Genesis Sample Theme or something. It would be sweet to have something like that with Typekit options rolled in targeted at developer and CSS hackers.

    • Got it :) Right now we don’t really have a base theme with Typekit options rolled in, but that’s an excellent idea and something we’ll keep in mind.

  5. I like what Drew is doing here. Instead of customers purchasing a theme from them and then having to go out and purchase a Typekit account, both are taken care of during the purchase of the theme.

    Also a nice business move that the fee recurs annually and if they fail to renew, their theme shows a default set of fonts. I’m guessing in most cases, the default fonts will look nowhere near as nice as what’s offered by Typekit :)

    • They’ll be able to capture more renewals with this model versus renewal covering “only” support and theme updates. Some people don’t need support and unfortunately some people don’t realize theme updates are important. But people will probably not want the appearance of their site to be downgraded.


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