CM09: How a small change can make a big difference to your user experience w/ Jordan Bell
Welcome to Custom Made — our new weekly podcast that explores the many traits of successful product development.
We are on episode #009 of Custom Made, and today we are talking Jordan Bell, typeface designer at Hoefler & Co. in New York City. We are discussing how a small change can make a big difference to your brand’s user experience by exploring the world of typeface design.
The logo or a mark of a brand is really important and tends to get the spotlight. But a brand’s typeface is possibly the most interactive element of a brand — whenever we open up an app, read an article, or navigate a UI we are generally looking at a lot of text. And so why not have that element we are interacting so much with be unique and relatable to that brand.
Also, with the globalization of technology, the growth of internet access allowing new audiences to discover your brand, and the diversity of devices or ways in which a user can engage with a brand — the necessity of creating and updating your brand’s style is critical.
Here at Dialexa when we are working with a client who has developed various applications over many years, or has grown through acquisition, they tend not to have a consistent branding and so we are brought in to help them integrate, modernize, or replace these platforms and develop a new more consistent user interface. This new look and feel is typically built out from a design system.
A Design System is more than a style guide or ui pattern library. It’s a product that consists of various components, including its typeface, for your designers and developers that enables them to design and build better experiences at scale.
Though originally trained as a graphic designer in New Mexico and his home state of Texas, Jordan became interested in type design and how it performs in various contexts. To pursue this interest, he left the mountains of Santa Fe to attend Reading University in England where he earned his MA in Typeface Design program in 2014.
While at Reading, Jordan researched and studied the history of American sans serifs, handwriting and its influence on the personality of our designs, and Scotch roman typefaces and their impact on American type design.
Since joining Hoefler & Co. he has worked on many projects including Archer, Operator, and Inkwell.
Famous for creating long-lived typefaces marked by high performance and high style, Hoefler & Co. creates the fonts that help shape the world’s foremost institutions, publications, causes, and brands.
With a library of more than 1,000 typefaces designed for print, web, office and mobile environments, fonts by Hoefler & Co are everywhere: you’ll find them on Twitter and at Tiffany & Co., on HBO and Netflix, on every can of Coca-Cola, and on every iPhone ever made.
Hoefler & Co. is the only type foundry ever to be honored by the National Design Awards at the White House and Hoefler & Co. typefaces are in the permanent collections of both the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Throughout our conversation Jordan mentions a number of great resources, here are some quick links to help you check them out:
- Chris Coyer
- Hoefler & Co.
- Design Matters
- Type Radio
- CAST Articles
- Four Techniques for Combining Fonts
You can catch Jordan’s full Custom Made episode here:
Here are some of the memorable moments from Jordan’s episode of Custom Made:
- The inspiration behind effective storytelling
- Testing your typeface for different use cases
- The technical aspects of typeface
- Tradeoffs for creating your own typeface vs. off the shelf
- Little changes can make all the difference
- Advice on picking a typeface for your brand
- Recommended resources
And, if you prefer to listen on the go, you can get all episodes of Custom Made on these platforms and many more. Do subscribe on your favorite platform to catch each episode as it is released, and let me know any feedback, questions, and recommendations on twitter @dougplatts.