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The modern world is flooded with type; it’s everywhere from the pages of books, on the billboards and signage lining the streets, brochures and flyers, to TV and smartphone displays. It is nearly impossible to find a moment free from the constant barrage of text. It is a fundamental element of design, used for visual appeal in today’s retail-driven culture. Despite how much information is delivered and received through written text, for the most part, little thought is given to the importance of the typeface itself.
Fonts for Mobile Devices
“As a font designer for smart devices, I ‘draw’ text. My main job is to develop new fonts and optimize existing fonts originally designed for print or web pages by paying attention to the appearance of every single letter,” explained JiEun Kim, Senior Designer of UX Innovation, for Samsung’s IT & Mobile Communications Business.
The term “digital font” refers to the design of text used for electronic devices, such as computers and smartphones. As web design expands, the number of fonts also grows. There are many fonts that are language-specific. Considering that Galaxy devices support more than 90 languages, the number of fonts available for Galaxy users is nearly inconceivable. The default font for Galaxy devices is the result of optimizing the standard typeface used by Android OS, ensuring that it is best-suited for each Galaxy device.
Many people like to change the fonts on their personal devices, testing various styles to find their favorite. Typeface is so important, some users pay to download additional options. For others, font design may go unnoticed as devices and trends change, sticking to familiar fonts that feel comfortable. Just like seasonal fashion, new fonts can be applied for a different look; however, as with many things, simply following the trend is not always the best way to go.
“In my opinion, a good font should be clearly legible, even after long hours of reading. But that does not mean there is a universal font that is best for all devices; depending on differences in display resolution, screen size, aspect ratio and even background colors, the same font can look quite different on different devices,” Kim explained.
For example, the thickness of a white font on a black background can appear to be different than a black font on a white background. Additionally, wearable devices have smaller screens than smartphones. Samsung had to reduce the width of each character of every font to better fit smaller displays.
Creating a Masterpiece
The font design team also takes a creative approach, attempting to create new font styles that are interesting and different. Some people may initially feel slightly uncomfortable with change, but over time it becomes more familiar and eventually the change is preferred. Samsung believes it is very important to find the right balance between meeting the needs of people who like familiarity and pursuing fresh ideas that consumers will come to love.
“We continue to examine our fonts in extreme detail, even if it is barely noticeable to the majority of users. Imagine a sculptor working on his future masterpiece, hammering and sanding the surface for years. In a similar manner, we fine-tune our fonts little by little, getting closer to perfection each time,” Kim added.
Before launching a new device, Kim carefully checks how each font will look, depending on the length and arrangement of text and font size.
Unique to Galaxy
Galaxy users can customize the faces of their smartphones with several pre-loaded fonts such as Choco Cooky, Cool Jazz, Gothic Bold, Rosemary and Samsung’s default font. In the configuration settings menu, fonts can be previewed to see how it will look as a title or description, before applying the changes.
“It’s difficult when a font has really unique characters. People can grow tired of the font in a short period of time, if the characters are too strong. The most widely used fonts around the world are popular for hundreds of years, even while they continue to be refined. Keeping this in mind, we try to make sure every font on Galaxy devices looks neutral, solid and dignified.”
The newest font, Samsung Sans, was designed exclusively for Samsung mobile devices including Galaxy smartphones. Kim joined the design team that carefully developed the tilt, lines and curves of every character, over the past year.
“Samsung Sans is our first exclusive font for Samsung mobile devices. We focused on making Samsung Sans embody the identity of Samsung mobile, delivering a soft, natural typeface that is polished, but not over-styled. Because Samsung mobile devices are favored by hundreds of millions of users around the globe, we tried to design a font that would be easy and comfortable to read in any language,” said Kim.
Another noteworthy difference of font design that users may easily recognize is number font, which is the same for users globally. Due to changes in approaches and design concepts of Samsung’s flagship smartphones, number fonts differ slightly by device. Numbers change the appearance of the lock screen, the weather forecasting widget, dual clock widget and alarm.
The Difference of Typeface
When thinking about the newest smart devices, most people focus on the latest technologies and features. Typeface is recognized subconsciously; however, there are those who always consider the way information is displayed, such as font designers like Kim. They understand typography is a language itself, and think about what fonts are best for every message, location or device.
“As a font designer for smart devices, my goal is to design a smart device-specialized font that feels comfortable, is easy to read and is attractive across many languages. Of course, I want to achieve ultimate optimization for various smart devices, too. You may feel that the fonts currently used on smart devices are good enough, but I don’t think they are 100 percent perfect yet. I believe fonts are similar to facial expressions in a way; the slightest hint of distortion can change the whole impression,” Kim emphasized.