Interview with Vitaly Friedman: The impact of web fonts on the user experience

As a diamond sponsor of the Frontend Conference Zurich on 27 and 28 August, we had the exclusive opportunity to conduct interviews with selected speakers. You shared your experiences and opinions about the exciting interplay between design and technology. Thank you for the inspirational food for thought!

Vitaly Friedman (@smashingmag) – Editor-in-chief des Smashing Magazine. About Vitaly Friedman

When will @smashingmag finally break the 1m followers barrier and be taken seriously?

Vitaly Friedman: To be honest, we really don’t care about the number of followers. It doesn’t matter. We value conversations taking place on Twitter, and noise isn’t really helpful. So I’d be more than happy to have fewer followers if we had more meaningful conversations instead. Number isn’t important.

Overall, from a user perspective, are web fonts at the current state a blessing or a curse?

Vitaly Friedman: Web fonts are great for rich reading experience on the web, and they are definitely a blessing, if you use them properly. Performance is an issue though, and it has to be addressed professionally. Fortunately, there are bulletproof solutions that just work: The Guardian has pioneered a lot of work there. So take it and use it. More weight doesn’t have to mean more wait.

How important are web fonts for the user experience?

Vitaly Friedman: I wouldn’t say that they are critical, but they are important. There is a lot we can do with custom web fonts, and they can have a tremendous influence on how the content is perceived.

Will the CSS Font Loading Module Level 3 solve most problems or would you prefer to see something along the lines of:

Vitaly Friedman: Well, it’s definitely helpful, because it brings consistency and control to developers, but there are still quite a number of unsolved problems. E.g. we still don’t have a proper, smart hyphenation on the web, and dynamic subsetting is crucial for Chinese or Japanese websites, just to give an example. But in terms of general loading — yes. It’s been great to see Typekit moving to asynchronous loading by default, too!

What is the best use of web typography you have seen lately?

Vitaly Friedman: Oh, well, I don’t think anything jumps to my mind, sorry :-) Let’s skip this question.

2017 – Trends, business cases and strategic steps

Customer expectations are higher than ever before: In the course of purchase decisions, the experience factor is becoming more important than the price or specific product characteristics (Customer 2020, Walker). Therefore, we are convinced that in 2017, in order to increase commitment to their brand, companies will have to take a closer look at how they inspire their customers in the digital world.