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You are here: Home / Conferences / 2011 Reykjavik / Programme

The subtle & peculiar lessons we learned from Google Web Fonts users

When Thu 15 Sep 1230
Where Track 1
What Presentation
Who Dawn Shaikh, Marc Tobias Kunisch

In an attempt to get a comprehensive understanding of web fonts users, I spent 100+ hours interviewing users (50+) and conducting surveys (n=367) in the winter of 2010/11. We put both experienced and novice users to the test watching them complete tasks on Google Web Fonts and competitor sites. The lessons we learned from our initial research effort kept us busy for months!As users repeatedly expressed a desire for more fonts - body copy fonts, display fonts, and international scripts - we knew our team goal of adding more fonts was spot on. But with a font directory not built to scale, we were unsure of where to begin.Meet Parker Promoter, Dillon Designer, Derrick Developer, Tiago Type Designer, and Bella Blogger. These user profiles helped us keep our users in mind as we embarked on a substantial redesign that shifted the Google Font Directory to Google Web Fonts. Our users followed a common workflow when choosing web fonts. By overlaying our product on the typical workflow, we were easily able to find ways for improving the experience. Did you know most of the users we interviewed and surveyed have serious reservations about web fonts? Peculiar indeed! We will discuss why many of the typical users are casual users only interested in dabbling with web fonts. Are users willing to pay for web fonts right now? We tackled this delicate issue
in our studies and will share their concerns and thoughts not only about paying for web fonts but using web fonts in general. Our user studies revealed many lessons about usable features, meaningless features, and missing features offered not only by Google Web Fonts but other web font services as well. After learning so much about users in the initial round of research, the team chose to follow a user-centric iterative process as we developed the new product. Our user studies led to a day-long, team-wide brainstorming session in California. The brainstorming results sparked a design sprint in rainy Seattle - 5 Google designers + Google Web Fonts team members locked away in a war room for one full week. Iterative rounds of user testing, diary studies, and surveys followed as the engineering and design teams built out mocks, prototypes, and eventually our new product.Learn about the user-centric methods we employed to create a new interface for browsing, selecting, and using web fonts that users love!

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