An Examination of Typographic Standards and Their Relevance to Contemporary User-Centred Web and Application Design
The implementation of the various modes of typography on the Internet and device applications is now a relatively straightforward task, following a technological renaissance that began around 5 years ago that increased the importance of typography in web and application-based design.
Graphic designers had long desired to move beyond the early restrictions caused by the limited numbers of fonts that browsers could handle and display (and the even more restricted overlap between Windows and OSX operating systems). This desire fuelled an innovation boom that led to the wide array of font replacement and deployment technologies available today.
The new challenge for graphic designers is device fragmentation: keeping designs consistently readable across a variety of screen resolutions, screen types and devices. Yet, pure research on how users perceive, interact with and process the fundamental units of information transmission – words – remains limited. Extant studies are mostly confined to early (and outdated) papers in the 1980s and 1990s, investigations on the efficacy of e-ink, or other tenuously-related areas of human-computer interaction.
The presentation and comprehension of words and information is therefore restricted to niche areas of study for academic researchers and vehicles of aesthetic expression for graphic designers, with almost no communication between either group. This has led to a comprehensive lack of industry-standard best practices for typography, which is surprising considering the current focus of human factor-related disciplines in user-centered design.
This paper aims to collate and examine the history of typography, existing research, readability on electronic devices and current typographic trends, and lay down a roadmap for future research.
KeywordsTypography HCI Reading comprehension Readability Usability Web design Application design
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