Announcing Font Study

What It Is

A very simple way to collect information about what fonts users find the easiest to read.

What It Isn't

This information should probably be used as a suggestion at best. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure if I'd trust users to be able to determine which font will maximize their attention when reading only one paragraph. That being said, the results will definitely impact my personal font choices, especially for this site.

How It Works

When you load the index page, it will use the Google Fonts api to randomly load 6 fonts from the 20 (at time of writing) most popular fonts on Google fonts. Then, it's a simple HTML form that'll take in your preferences with a little bit of JS to validate your entry. The data is publically available as a json, as well as an interactive JS graph, and an svg graph.

Why

Because picking fonts is hard. And a lot of typography discussion centers around...art (album art, posters, etc). I can't help but wonder how a typeface impacts readability. There are studies comparing legibility of typefaces, but the research still seems sparse (not that this will fill the void of peer-reviewed research). So, this was made because I want to know what users find the easiest to read. I'm curious if some specific fonts, like Roboto and Open Sans, which are seen very often, will have higher scores because of familiarity. Other than that I wonder how "condensed" fonts will do, I personally use one in my resume but I'm worried it hurts readability. And also there are obviously the different families such as geometric fonts, humanist fonts, etc.

Source

The decidedly disgusting source code is available on Github, though I definitely don't recommend looking into it. By the end I was definitely taping everything together.

Future Steps

In the future I might expand the number of fonts, top 20 is decent when you're struggling to get data but I'd very much like to eventually get the top 100 fonts. Other tests such as the same thing but with longform text will probably be added soon(tm) as well. Other typography elements I'd like to eventually test: column size, justified vs ragged, font size, mobile vs desktop.