Adobe fonts in Blocs

I am starting work soon on a client website and just been told the graphic designer chose Brandon Grotesque for the product labelling, which is an Adobe font. Is it even possible to use Adobe fonts with Blocs?

It looks like I would need to be signed up for Adobe to make this work and because it is a subscription service that would effectively mean forever. It would also breach GDPR by passing the user’s IP address without consent to Adobe. To purchase the font appears to cost the best part of £400 and I am pretty sure the client won’t wear that.

I am going to contact the graphic designer now, but slightly frustrated by this situation and just wondered if others have come up against this sort of thing and how you managed?

Personally, I would give the client the choice of paying for a licence for the preferred font or, accepting a substitute, such as Google’s Josefin Sans. It’s not exactly the same as Brandon, but it’s a fairly close match.

I’ve had many clients insisting on the use of specific fonts, but as soon as they understand a licence fee has to be paid, they generally change their mind - particularly if it’s for use in a website or application. Even large companies with full corporate ID manuals that specify specific fonts often detract from the design guide when it comes to digital media. They tend to go for clarity of the font on-screen over what may be more generally used in print or signage.

The one thing you should establish is whether the client has got a licence to use the font already (particularly if it’s a font that is specified in their official Corporate ID manual). If they do have a licence, then you could use the font as long as its only used for their website and its use complies with the terms of the licence they have.

As a last resort, you could throw the ball back to the designer. Ask him to provide you with the font if he insists on its use. Tell him (or her) that you do not have a licence for that particular font, but if the client is insisting on its use, have the designer discuss with the client who is going to pay for the required licence.

Yes I tend to agree. I have another client who wants to use Avenir, following the branding guidelines that were developed previously. I mentioned that this required licensing, which she didn’t know about and has simply agreed we will buy the font at a single weight for the body text, which is about £30.

Brandon Grotesque is a whole different ball of bees wax though in terms of cost and the client has already told me they won’t pay hundreds for it. The part I find frustrating is that a graphic designer has simply plucked these fonts out of thin air without ever considering the implications for others working on the project.

He is simply assuming I would naturally be signed up to Adobe products, yet hasn’t thought about GDPR or the longterm requirement of using a subscription based font on the web. I very much doubt this is deliberate; more likely just a case of only considering their own part of the project.

This is a startup product, so I am going to suggest Josefin Sans for the website and they’ll probably just say that is fine. If they want the real thing it will cost them. All of this means more time spent in email and calls though, which could have been avoided with a little thought in advance.

I understand the problem you’re facing. Many graphic designers are locked into Adobe and assume that web designers are in the same situation. I would politely tell the designer that since Adobe have fallen behind with credible web design products, it’s no longer viable to maintain a CC account with them. You could also be a bit cheeky and point out that if the designer is a CC subscriber, he could effectively provide you with the embed code for the font. Personally, I would stick to the longer-winded option of selling the client on a less problematic alternative.


I did actually cite Muse as a recent example of Adobe’s unreliability and pointing out that this only works for the web fonts if I stay signed up for life. The bit that surprises me though is why he doesn’t seem to have considered this before, as somebody who is presumably working on a range of projects constantly.

I’ve had various experiences lately with graphic designers where they present me with ideas that are effectively impossible. Layouts or menus that just don’t work on mobile for example. It’s like they are just completely naive about the technical realities of designing for web and still stuck in an analogue age.

I know exactly what you mean. I do courses for graphic designers that focus on web design specifically. Many of the them still think they’re designing for print, where the whole item or document is viewed in its entirety. Clearly, in these situations, it’s important to create a well balanced, attractive design to make the item stand out, particularly if they are competing for attention with other printed items (product packaging is a good example).

Web design, on the other hand, is a whole new ball-game. The idea is to present a “user dashboard” where the site visitor is encouraged to interact with the website to reach a desired objective. Furthermore, the site has to perform in much the same way as the device it’s being viewed on. If it doesn’t, visitors will get confused and abandon the site if they don’t immediately grasp how it works.

Unusual designs, navigation and all the other bells and whistles that graphic designers like to throw at a web site concept may win them a few awards, but it isn’t necessarily helping their customer increase visitor numbers.

The core message to graphic designers is to put their efforts into designing good graphical elements (images, buttons, icons, logos and colour palettes). If they insist on designing the page layouts also, they should consult with their client on the objective of the site, rather than trying to sell graphic design. This is all the customer is interested in. Once the client has specified the objective, the aim of a good designer is to create a logical journey from initial home screen to final objective that can be navigated with nothing more than touch and swipe. That journey should utilise all the familiar tools that a site visitor has within the viewing device - in other words, make it look and feel like a native app.

One of the reasons that we saw the demise of Microsoft, Blackberry, Nokia and Ericsson from the smartphone business is that they all made the mistake of inventing their own unique graphic interface. This made it very difficult for users to transition between different systems - there was no familiarity. Today’s smartphone users now understand they can switch devices as often as they like without having to learn a whole host of new things. The same is true of modern websites - the moment people are confronted with something that’s totally different, they lose interest and go elsewhere. The bottom line is clever doesn’t equate to increased site visits and subsequent business.

The strange thing is that customers get this, but their designers are a little slow to understand the commercial implications of keeping it simple.

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You make very good points. What I don’t quite understand is why this isn’t a priority for many of them. Print media is rapidly being surpassed by the web and it’s not like this is something new.

An experienced graphic designer in his 40s or 50s has probably been working periodically with web developers for over 20 years now, while younger designers should be coming out of college fully versed in best practices. There is almost a slightly aloof distance of not wanting to embrace the change and hang on to the past.

IMO Adobe is creating very nice fonts. As you said, the GDPR issue has to be though about.

Would it be possible to purchase the fonts like on another platform and use them as local resource?

Yes the font in question can be purchased for self-hosting, but starts at almost £400 and the client has already indicated they are not willing to pay this. Some sort of reasonable compromise will have to be reached, but I have explained the technical and legal reasons why it is not a good choice.

Hopefully the designer will think about this with future jobs. It will save some poor web developer having to explain everything.

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Oh yeah that’s a lot.

Regarding GDPR: I don’t know where your client is located, there might be different rules. Also it might be possible to use like Google fonts or Adobe fonts if it is correctly mentioned inside the privacy policy.

The client is here in the UK. The problem is that the IP number is sent to Adobe as the page opens without their consent, which breaches GDPR anywhere inside the EU.

It’s not credible to block entry to a website asking permission before loading fonts or sufficient to ask permission afterwards, when GDPR has already been breached. Personally I think the law is very silly, but in practice we have to use self-hosted fonts these days.

Even forgetting GDPR for a moment, a subscription for fonts is not a good strategy for a web developer. You cannot turn around to a client after a few years and tell them the site now looks wrong because you are no longer paying the subscription fee.

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