What Makes a Good Font Good? Find out with Monotype at Adobe MAX

by Sandy Balzer

posted on 09-26-2017

This post is from Monotype, an Adobe MAX 2017 partner. We’d like to thank all our MAX partners who help make the conference possible.

Every designer knows that type is an omnipresent fixture of everyday life. Almost everything has a screen–phones, watches, automobile dashboards, even household appliances. Text is integral to the user interface and is often the only way to get things done.

This raises the stakes when considering fonts for projects. It’s no longer good enough to simply choose a typeface that looks pretty–it must be legible and functional across devices. That’s a huge challenge given the number of devices and mediums available, not to mention that consumer expectations have skyrocketed thanks to the quality and ubiquity of those devices.

“I believe good type is what makes or breaks a brand,” says Jamie Neely, Director of Product Design at Monotype. “But designers have so many things to think about these days–print, web, mobile, social, physical, virtual, and so on–so the onus is on us to choose type wisely, and use it with good intent.”

Legibility is the most fundamental quality of font choice. A typeface should have the kind of clarity that almost feels like it’s reading to you. The “voice” of type is a much trickier concept to master, with much more nuance. It can also change with time. Onyx, for example, was always thought of as an elegant and space-saving poster font in the tradition of Bodoni–until the band Nirvana used it for its logo. Part of a designer’s responsibility is to make sure she is always thinking about the next thing so she doesn’t paint herself into a corner. A good font choice can stretch as needs and use cases evolve.

“It’s not unusual for us to build a relationship with a typeface over years and decades of our working lives,” Neely says. “Good type is valuable to designers because it’s a professional tool that only gets better with time and practice. And it’s valuable to a brand because it brings clarity, emotion and consistency, especially over time.”

Jamie Neely will be expanding on these ideas at Adobe MAX this year. In a presentation titled (appropriately) “Good Type,” Neely will dive into the fundamentals of choosing the best and most appropriate fonts for your projects, and share living examples of type in the wild to see what we can learn. Jamie’s presentation will be Wednesday at 3:30 pm, but it’s filling up quickly so register today to reserve your spot.

Topics: Design, Typography