Ampersand Conference 2015- Friday 13th November • Brighton

Designing Typefaces for Screens- Bruno Maag • Notes by Sajhd Hussain

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Bruno Maag is a Swiss type designer and founder of type foundry Dalton Maag. He has worked and lived in London for two decades. In recent years, Dalton Maag have increasingly been designing typefaces for use primarily on screens, including the Amazon Bookerly fonts. Bruno talked about the design, development and testing of these fonts, and how the process and requirements differ from primarily print fonts.

Nearly 2 billion mobile phone devices sold globally in 2015 vastly out doing PCs and tablets. This should tell us how we should be designing websites.

Android is the dominant OS in the developing world (1.4 billion +) hence the hardware runs the free type rastorizer with a multidude devices of a cheaper make, lower end smartphones. This tells about resolution of screen which the type needs to be developed for

Case Study: Amazon Bookerly

Dalton Maag created a new typeface for Amazon Kindle's. The criteria for the typeface were improving reading speed, comprehension and emotional acceptance. The new typeface translates into having time to read two more books per year in the same time it took you last year.

Amazon requested a typepace design and knew the screens resolutions clearly defining the parameters (167ppi, 212ppi 300ppi).

Research was done on e-ink technology used in the Kindle devices and the issues with it such as ghosting. This had to be factored into the typeface design. A serif typeface was chosen with low contrast with tighter proportions. Designing and testing/assessment was done on the device only. 10 concepts were sent to the client and narrowed down to 3. The 3 developed further into full English character set and multiple weights ready for user testing.


60 users were surveyed for font weight preference, reading speed, comprehension and emotional acceptanceBookerly performed 6% better than the other 2 concepts and against the fonts currently used on the Kindle.

If you consider the average proficient English reader reads 330 words per minute that means 20 words quicker per minute, over several hours, several days. Over the year that is 2 extra book purchases

This data gives us designers the tools to test the effectiveness of our work and put it into hard currency and making it a business case

It worked so well, Amazon now wanted it on the Kindle Fire which is LCD technology at a higher resolution so the typeface needed a lighter version. Additional language support was also required

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