Why you should avoid Google Fonts

I've been asked to write this week's post on the Swivro blog, and as such I'm going to explain why you should avoid using Google Fonts, as well as just general typography and services hosted externally on third-party servers.  ~ Logan L Johnson

1. Longer load times and limited accessibility


This is one of the main reasons why I removed Google Fonts and FontAwesome which was being loaded from their own third-party content delivery networks from swivro.net. For example, when one was to visit swivro.net, not only would a request be made to the server at swivro.net, but a request was also made to fonts.google.com, fonts.googleapis.com, and fontawesome.com. This is all unnecessary and constitutes a large increase in load time. Not only this, but it limits user accessibility to users which are on slow or limited data connections. Simply using web-safe fonts results in faster load times, as the user is only making a request to the website which they are visiting, not multiple content delivery networks in addition. This is also beneficial to people on connections with data caps, such as mobile networks, as additional data isn't being utilized to download typography. Removing Google Fonts and FontAwesome from swivro.net reduced our load times approximately from 4.9 seconds to 1.7 seconds.

2. Reliance on third-party services


Aside from the impacts on performance and accessibility, your website relies on a third-party service for basic functionality. As you have no control over third-party services, if they cease to function, so does your website, which will result in a rather unsightly mess if Google Fonts is in use rather than web-safe fonts.

3. Privacy


While I'm sure the specifics of this can be found in Google's privacy policy, it is only safe to assume that Google must gain something from hosting Google fonts and providing them for free to the public. Google is a for-profit company that profits from the sale of user information to advertisers and researchers and doesn't have the greatest track record for ethically handling user data. It's only safe to assume that Google is collecting some sort of data from Google Fonts users.

4. Limited creativity


It is safe to say that Google Fonts has a considerably wide selection of fonts to choose from, but not only can one self-host typography found on Google Fonts, but from other font websites such as DaFont, HelloFont, and more where font licensing allows. There's no valid reason for a web developer to limit themselves to Google Fonts if they desire uncommon typography.

 

I'm using Google Fonts already, what should I do?


Well, it is advisable that you take one of two actions.

1. Use web-safe fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, Ubuntu, etc, etc in your stylesheet(s)

2.  Self-host custom fonts

Google Fonts are built into my Wordpress theme and references are not in my theme's stylesheet.


It seems as if the majority of Wordpress themes automatically come with Google Fonts pre-packaged. It is inconvenient and nearly impossible to remove Google Fonts from a Wordpress theme without help or documentation from the theme developer. In my experience, it has been possible to completely remove Google Fonts from WordPress by using the Disable and Remove Google Fonts plugin.

 

Thanks for reading! I hope I've provided helpful information regarding the usage of Google Fonts and web typography. Any questions are welcome by email at logan@cygo.network.

[caption id="attachment_1754" align="aligncenter" width="150"] Logan L Johnson - CYGO Network[/caption]