Review review

You probably already know instinctively your type foundry site doesn’t need reviews. Likewise, if you are deciding between fonts on another foundry’s site, it’s not something you expect to see.

Baymard Institute investigated this for Direct to Consumer (DTC) sites, as part of their ongoing user experience research. I think these tests are often a decent approximation for type foundry sites (albeit without a digital download focus). The outcomes suggests that DTC site don’t benefit from having on-site reviews.

While these kind of sites might have existing reviews that don’t appear to do much for them, it’s even harder for me to imagine reviews seeming natural on foundry sites. There is nothing technical stopping you from requesting them: it might effectively be place for someone to give you a testimonial, or if they did run into a technical issue that you could reply to and say it’s been fixed. However, even if you built this, it seems likely visitors wouldn’t trust them on your own site.

Reviews can seem more trustworthy on marketplace-style sites, and I imagine that could extend to font marketplaces. Still, there are other, more expected mechanisms that fill this gap on font marketplaces, like ranked lists rather than than free-form reviews from any customer.

In the research, potential customers also didn’t “penalize” DTC sites without product reviews. Instead,

users may have off-handedly commented that a site was lacking reviews, but continued on with their exploration (rather than abandon the site, which was a commonly observed outcome for products with no reviews when testing traditional e-commerce sites).

In short: there is no need to enable this feature on your own site. Efforts to help differentiate yourself through reviews—and the unexpected extra elements of it, like automating follow up email to request reviews in the first place—can probably be put towards other forms of social proof and differentiation instead. In our case, that likely means work that is both encouraging and useful for designers deciding between fonts.

Until next time,