Views on testing fonts?

I am interested to hear views on offering fonts for testing purposes?

I am often asked can I supply my font software so the designer, design company or agency can test the font out before making a decision whether to purchase.

In most cases these tests will be shown to the client as part of a presentation pitch.

Although I've agreed to this on many occasions I've found it rarely results in a sale.

This is a bit like the debate over the ethics of designers free-pitching.

All views welcome.

Comments

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 730
    edited May 2016
    Bruno Maag has publicly said many times that when he started giving away free renamed testing versions of his fonts that he tripled sales.  
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,403
    edited May 2016
    “This is a bit like the debate over the ethics of designers free-pitching.”

    Hmmm. Unlike free pitching, you are not doing a bunch of extra work for free. But that said, one might feel that the customer is getting extra value from the trial.

    I think that the general point being made by those wanting to allow free trials is probably valid, that customers are unlikely to buy fonts just to try out because they are sort of interested.

    I am fairly sure that the individual foundries currently allowing free trials, if they are doing professional level fonts, benefit from it and gain more sales. People will trial their fonts and not others, and will buy them preferentially.

    To me, the next interesting question is, if everyone allows free trials, will that increase sales, decrease sales, or will sales stay about the same, compared to nobody allowing free trials? I imagine it would be increasing the market. The “risk” to the customer is lower if they trial the fonts and know they work well in the design, so they are more likely to go for a new font in that situation.

    I note that this thinking is in regard to pro-level fonts sold to designers doing commercial work. For somebody whose main audience is, say, scrapbookers, things might be quite different.
  • Nina StössingerNina Stössinger Posts: 151
    edited May 2016


    When you don’t offer your customers a way to test your fonts, you’re factually making them download illegal versions of your fonts just so that they can sell it to their clients and pay you afterwards.
    Hold your horses there... I’m pretty sure I’m not the only typographer that actually uses testers to make mockups, prints specimens and things, and if things get more serious actually, yes, licenses one style to test in context and propose to clients. I don’t deny that offering trial fonts makes things easier, but honestly, this is a *bit* strong.

    There’s also a point in here about education, about talking to typographers and discussing the various options they have for mocking things up, other than just going ahead and giving them the maximum of what they might want. (In my world, this has something to do with the ongoing quest to drive home the point that fonts have value, and can’t just be copied/downloaded/whathaveyou freely.)
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited May 2016
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Thierry BlancpainThierry Blancpain Posts: 187
    edited May 2016


    When you don’t offer your customers a way to test your fonts, you’re factually making them download illegal versions of your fonts just so that they can sell it to their clients and pay you afterwards.
    Hold your horses there... I’m pretty sure I’m not the only typographer that actually uses testers to make mockups, prints specimens and things, and if things get more serious actually, yes, licenses one style to test in context and propose to clients. I don’t deny that offering trial fonts makes things easier, but honestly, this is a *bit* strong.

    There’s also a point in here about education, about talking to typographers and discussing the various options they have for mocking things up, other than just going ahead and giving them the maximum of what they might want. (In my world, this has something to do with the ongoing quest to drive home the point that fonts have value, and can’t just be copied/downloaded/whathaveyou freely.)
    Agreed, that was a bit over the top in how absolutely I phrased it.

    But the fact is that there’s a lot of people who want to pay for type but also don’t feel as strongly about type as you or I do, and will either not consider our foundry’s type or consider it through torrented fonts before licensing. I don’t think offering trial fonts diminishes the value of our type at all. I strongly believe it enhances its usefulness in the eyes of our customers, which in the end is how its intrinsic value is turned into income for our type designers and our foundry.

    We still offer PDF specimens, we still have a typetester on our page, but there’s no denying that trial fonts, even with a limited character set, are way more useful to most people than a website’s type tester that will most of the time have a pattern in the background or so to disincentivize screenshotted usage. And if trials aren’t available, many people will feel okay about illegally downloading versions so they can present it to their clients and then pay for the type that gets chosen. I’m not saying I agree with that, but that’s definitely a reality.
  • Are most trial fonts limited in character set or with some functionality (OT features) stripped and renamed (font name and metadata)? I guess this would vary quite a bit amongst foundries.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 730
    @Jackson Cavanaugh I think that the only reasonable measure is the only observable one - when the work goes live.  I know that feels really permissive but I'm all about enforceable rules and I don't think it's possible to enforce a rule any sooner.  
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,240
    http://blog.fontspring.com/2016/01/introducing-demo-fonts/ worth mentioning as a recent development on this topic
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