Think Different - Use Helvetica

photo © Dan Lurie, creative commons license

Think Different - Use Helvetica

11 June 2014

So for the first time in over decade Apple have changed their font from Lucida to…. Helvetica. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of love for that particular font.  There is a reason it’s one of the most commonly used typefaces. However, it completely sucks for small, on-screen displays.

We have used it quite successfully on some Web Site Designs however it’s rare we would use it for body text, especially below 14px.

In fact, after Apple added it to the mobile OS there was an outcry as the light weight can be hard to read. Apple added an accessibility “feature” to make text bold. If you actually need a control to make your OS usable for badly rendered fonts then you really should just change the font! Personally, this feels like a result of allowing an industrial designer to take control of the UI department.

In fairness apparently Apple are working on an in house typeface. Apparently it’s been years in development. Fingers crossed Helvetica is a stop gap, I love it on my iPhone but not sure how I’d feel staring at it 8 hours a day on a non retina display.

Microsofts Windows font, Segoe UI, is a great example of how to create a beautiful, humanist and most importantly, legible font for on screen display. 

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