Serving Google Fonts Locally

Greg | CEO & Developer
Written on: February 10, 2024
The CEO & Lead developer for Ark Web Design. Let me personally help take your business to entirely new levels across the Internet.

In This Article

serving Google fonts locally

What are a few of the hidden performances of serving Google Fonts locally? Certainly glad you asked. Let’s dive in and take an in-depth look into this important issue.

As a web designer, speed and performance are paramount concerns. Users expect fast and fluid experiences online.

But did you know that by taking one simple step, you could significantly improve front-end optimizations and give your site a noticeable speed boost? That step is serving Google fonts locally.

When you select fonts from Google Fonts for use on your website, by default those fonts are loaded from Google’s servers. While the Google CDN is extremely fast, there is inherent latency when requesting assets from a third-party domain each time the page loads.

Rather than loading externally, by serving Google fonts locally you eliminate the need for that extra request.

Serving Google Fonts Locally Vs. Remotely

By serving fonts locally rather than from Google’s server, you cut out the latency of an additional external request. This leads to noticeably faster perceived performance, as the page can finish loading and rendering sooner without waiting on font files.

Studies show page load speed impacts metrics like bounce rate, so even saving 100-200ms can positively affect user experience and conversion rates.

Less Server Load and Bandwidth Usage

Each time a visitor accesses your site, their browser makes a request for the Google font files from Google’s servers. Serving locally shifts this load to your own server, reducing bandwidth consumption.

It also cuts down on the number of simultaneous connections required during peak traffic. With local hosting, you spare Google’s servers and optimize resource utilization on your own domain.

Reliable Font Display

When fonts are called externally, if the Google server happens to be slow or unavailable, it can cause visible delays in text rendering or even break the layout in some cases.

But by locally hosting fonts, you ensure they will be available independently of any outside factors — the fonts load immediately along with the rest of the page CSS and aren’t subject to potential fail points. Reliability and control are improved.

Offline Support – Serving Google Fonts Locally

If a user accesses your site offline or without an Internet connection, remotely hosted web fonts simply will not load or display at all. By storing font files locally, they will still work regardless of connectivity. This significantly enhances the usability and accessibility of your content.

Future Proofing Your Google Fonts

Google or any other external CDN could potentially go down or change their set-up. Locally hosting fonts ensures your site will never break or hang waiting on an external dependency outside your control. You future-proof the reading experience for visitors.

So in summary, serving Google fonts locally measurably improves performance, reliability, and site resilience. But how can it actually be done? Here are the basic steps:

  1. Identify the Google font subsets you need based on the characters and languages used on your site.
  2. Generate font files from the Google Fonts API or download manually from Google Fonts website.
  3. Upload font files to your server, ideally in a /fonts folder.
  4. Reference font files locally in your CSS instead of via Google’s CDN link.

For example:

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Roboto’;
src: url(‘/fonts/roboto-latin-300.eot’); /* IE9 Compat Modes /
src: local(‘Roboto Light’), local(‘Roboto-Light’),
url(‘/fonts/roboto-latin-300.eot?#iefix’) format(’embedded-opentype’), / IE6-IE8 /
url(‘/fonts/roboto-latin-300.woff2’) format(‘woff2’), / Super Modern Browsers /
url(‘/fonts/roboto-latin-300.woff’) format(‘woff’), / Modern Browsers /
url(‘/fonts/roboto-latin-300.ttf’) format(‘truetype’), / Safari, Android, iOS /
url(‘/fonts/roboto-latin-300.svg#Roboto’) format(‘svg’); / Legacy iOS */

Review caching directives to ensure fonts are cached properly for performance.

Challenges To Serving Google Fonts Locally

  • Increased file size – Storing all font files locally will increase the overall size of your site. This could negatively impact load times for visitors on slower connections.
  • Additional hosting costs – You’ll need adequate space on your server to store all font files. This may require upgrading your hosting plan which involves additional expenditures.
  • Maintaining font files – As Google releases newer font versions, you’ll need to manually update your local files to ensure compatibility. This requires ongoing maintenance versus relying on Google’s CDN.
  • Browser caching complications – You’ll need to configure proper caching headers so browsers don’t repeatedly re-download font files. This caching can be tricky to set up versus leveraging Google’s CDN caching.
  • Increased technical skills required – Locally hosting fonts involves more technical know-how compared to using Google’s simple link tag. Linking fonts may be preferable for less technical clients.
  • Loss of Google rendering – Loading locally removes fallback support if Google fonts servers go down. You take on more responsibility for availability vs an external CDN.
  • Legal/licensing complexities – Google’s Terms of Use may restrict hosting font files locally long-term rather than directly linking their CDN. You assume more legal obligations.

Even with aforementioned item’s above, the benefits of serving Google Fonts Locally far outweigh any negative things.

In a world that is now focused on how quickly things load, particularly on their mobile devices, getting the font situation sorted out early in your overall design process will make the develop time easier.

How do you use your Google fonts and what are some of your favorite font pairings?

Are you ready to elevate your online presence?

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