Our Approach to Fonts

Lexi Namer
Lexi NamerFriday, March 3, 2023
Our Approach to Fonts

Sourcing fonts was leading to unexpected costs

While many of our clients come in with an existing brand already in place, we often have work on projects that don’t have an existing design system or chosen web fonts. As designers, we utilize many resources for sourcing fonts, including Adobe Fonts and independent font foundries. However, when it came time to build software that could scale for our clients, we ran into challenges with font licensing. Hosting a font in a server can quickly become a recurring cost that our clients are forced to absorb year over year and requires separate licenses from each foundry.

A font repository approved by our design team

As a design team, we decided to create a font repository with free and open-source fonts that could be used in all types of products, from websites to mobile apps. Instead of spending hours at the start of each project searching for fonts, reading licenses, and then testing them in visual concepts, this repository saves time, improves design efficiency, and ensures that every font that our team designs with can be easily utilized by our engineers.

We started by creating a checklist of criteria that every font must meet in order to become an approved font.

  • Open source to be used without additional licensing
  • Multiple styles (ie: italics, regular, bold) for flexibility and variety
  • Must have web font + desktop font (.ttf/woff),
  • Flexible use for headers and body copy.

Curating and visualizing a diverse selection of fonts

To begin building the repository, we sourced fonts from Typewolf's Definitive Guide to Free Fonts and conducted brainstorming exercises with the team. The result was a curated list of 50 diverse fonts that the entire design team loved. We then created created a repository in Notion, which is Echobind’s preferred tool. The most time consuming but valuable part of building the repository was designing a visual font specimen that our team could use to quickly scan all the approved fonts in various styles. Each font has a card that includes the category, classification, number of weights, download url, and additional tags.

We worked on this project in our investment time at Echobind so it took us about two months from start to finish. The final result is a repository of approved fonts that our team can quickly and easily access, saving time and improving our workflow. It will also help new designers at Echobind get up to speed on our preferred fonts, especially if they don’t have deep expertise in typography.

We highly recommend creating a repository for any design team looking to improve their workflow. Below is a peek of what the repository looks like in Notion.

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