Paid or free? Choosing the fonts for our website
by Gaurav Gupta
In web design, typefaces are a factor of great importance. In recent years, the rule @font-face and the appearance of new source file formats allowed a huge growth in the supply of fonts that we can use for our website. Most of this offer focuses on services from web sources such as Google Fonts or Fonts.com, which provide free fonts as well as others for whose download and use we must pay a license. It is logical to think that paid sources are better than free ones, but is this true? Compare these options according to the most important criteria.
Cost. In this regard, the free fonts are clear winner. If we make a custom website for a client, and especially if we sell already armed templates, it is an important advantage because the cost of the fonts will not be transferred to the price of our work. However, you have to know that sources are sold for only US $ 15.
Quality. Although there are exceptions, paid fonts often have a more rigorous processing process than free fonts, which ensures greater readability and clarity, as well as better spacing between characters and words. This difference is not so noticeable in fonts that are used in large sizes, such as display, but in fonts that are used in a small size, such as serif or sans serif, where irregular spacing or poor definition of contours can make reading difficult. That the source is shown consistently between different platforms is another factor of great importance, and, in that sense, Google Fonts does not offer the best results.
Attractive. Surely we find a greater variety of styles among paid sources, but perhaps our preferred source turns out to be free. Many design blogs, such as Awwwards, publish periodic listings with the most appealing free fonts that have been released in the year or semester that happened.
Versatility. Paid fonts often bring a more complete alphabet (more symbols) than free fonts, as well as more body options ( medium , bold , extra bold , etc.) and style (italic, oblique, etc.). Additional features include ligatures and lowercase numbers. This is important if we will use the font in several different contexts and languages.
Legality. Many sources are imitation of others more known, which could bring legal problems to its authors and endanger the continuity of the typography. However, this occurs both between paid and free sources.
Originality. For the cost advantage, free fonts are much more used than paid fonts. That is why free fonts tend to be too common, while paid fonts are often more original. An example is the peculiar free font Lobster , that, of so much used in printed and digital media, ended up being little showy.