Use a typeface from Google Fonts. If you want to use something else, have a damn good reason.
My rationale behind this broad and blunt statement:
- Most small businesses will not understand font licensing, even if you try to explain it to them. They simply don’t understand that once they buy a font they’re still severely limited in how they use it. In many discussions I’ve had with a client, I may be able to impress upon them not to use Desktop-licensed fonts on their website until they’ve purchased a Web license, but once I start talking about only installing the font on one or two workstations in their company, or monitoring the pageviews and adjusting their license accordingly, the eyes glaze over and I know as soon as I walk out the door the OTF files are being attached to an email. As their brand consultant, knowing they are likely to breach their license and wilfully ignoring this likelihood doesn’t sit right with me.
- When a business comes to their website, Instagram, blog, etc. — even if they insist they’ll never have one, they eventually will, trust me — trying to ensure they have the right font license for Web can be very difficult. They may not even be in contact with the original designer at this point, and this situation normally results in them having to purchase a font license they may have already purchased.
- Often the client will have no idea what the typeface on their letterhead/business cards/etc is called. Enter services like WhatTheFont and the like, and a few hours of your precious time, often unbillable, of scrolling through lists of typefaces trying to find a match.
- Most importantly, most themes designed for popular front-end
CMSsystems such as Wordpress, Shopify, Wix, etc. will only provide typography customisation using Google Fonts, ostensibly for
user-friendliness. So even if you have the web license sorted, if the client is bedded to a particular theme they can’t use it, or rely on custom CSS replacements that make their page typography flicker on load. Not a good UX.
Yes, sometimes tying in Google APIs creates privacy/GDPR issues, as well as the obvious issue of limiting the typography options to those widely used by everybody else, but until more theme developers support other services, or until foundries reform their licensing models, sadly Google Fonts should be the go-to default for small enterprises. Ultimately, a client will not care about licensing and privacy as much as they will care about their brand identity matching across channels. Save them the grief.
TLDR: If you’re not creating a medium size or larger corporate identity, stick to the Google Fonts family.
Here endeth the rant. Thanks for listening.