Best Fonts For UI Design – Web And Mobile
Are you looking to find the best fonts for UI Design? If so, you have come to the right place. Choosing the right fonts for UI Design can be tricky. So I wanted to give you a curated list of excellent UI fonts. In addition, answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding picking UI fonts for Web and Moblie.
Best Fonts For UI Design – Web And Mobile
Open Sans is a clean humanist sans serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson (Type Director of Ascender Corp). Open Sans was designed with optimization for UI, web, and mobile in mind. What makes this font great for UI is the way it was designed using upright stresses and open forms, which makes it easily readable, enhancing readability. Another upside of using this font for your UI project is it comes with a complete 879 character set, including ISO Latin 1, Greek, and Cyrillic.
Open Sans Pairings:
Roboto, Lato, Montserrat, Raleway, and Oswald.
Roboto is another Google font that is excellent for UI design. It features a seamless mix of geometric forms, with open curves. This makes Roboto flexible for many purposes. Especially in web and mobile, where readability at different point sizes is paramount. One of my favorite aspects of choosing Roboto for UI is that there are three families of Roboto: Regular, Condensed, and Slab. This allows you to mix and match for all use cases.
Open Sans, Noto Sans, Lato
Source Sans Pro
Source Sans Pro is an open-source font released by Adobe in 2012. Designer Paul D. Hunt designed this font specifically for user interfaces. He made sure small point sizes render well on screens. Source Sans is flexible for UI design work because it’s available in six weights, plus italics for each weight. In particular, the extra light-weights paired with regular and bold create excellent contrast. It’s worth mentioning that Source Sans Pro is now available on Adobe TypeKit and Google Fonts.
Source Sans Pro Pairings:
Roboto, Open Sans, Lato, Montserrat, and Raleway
Muli is a minimalist Sans Serif typeface designed by the late Vernon Adams. This typeface was designed with both screen and print in mind. One unique feature of Muli is its single-story “a”. Muli is versatile like the others, with eight weights and italics for each. In 2019, it was updated with a Variable Font “Weight” axis.
Roboto, Open Sans, Montserrat, Lato, and Playfair Display
Montserrat is a minimal and modern typeface inspired by public signage in the Montserrat neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This typeface has been optimized for websites and mobile app user interfaces. This font is versatile for UI design, with nine weights and italics for each. Montserrat has two sister font families Alternates and Subrayada.
Roboto, Open Sans, Lato, Railway, and Oswald
Work Sans is a typeface family based loosely on early Grotesques. This font is optimized specifically for screen text. Medium-sized optimal text usage is roughly 14px-48px. Yet Work Sans can still be used in print. There are 10 weights, including a hairline, italic variants for each.
Work Sans Pairings:
Roboto, Montserrat, Lato, Poppins, and Railway
Lato is a sans serif typeface created by Warsaw-based designer Łukasz Dziedzic. Originally designed for a large corporate client, Łukasz released the font for public use when the client decided to go in a different direction. The semi-rounded details give Lato a feeling of warmth, while the strong structure provides stability and seriousness. This is definitely a good font for UI, as many WordPress themes use Lato as the default font. Lato comes in fire weights, plus italics for each.
Roboto, Open Sans, Oswald, Source Sans Pro, and Railway
Clearly inspired by Helvetica, San Francisco is a neo-grotesque sans serif typeface designed by Apple Inc. In fact, this is the first typeface Apple Ink designed in-house in more than 20 years. Featuring clean shapes, subtle roundness, optimal space between letters, and a healthy x-height San Francisco was designed for on-screen legibility. If you are developing an App for IOS and Android, you could go with San Francisco font on IOS, and Roboto on Andriod.
San Fransisco Pairings:
SF Compact, and New York
Nunito is a sans serif typeface, gaining popularity in web and mobile UI design. Nunito was originally created by the late Vernon Adams as a rounded terminal sans serif typeface. Jacques Le Bailly extended it to a full set of weights, and an accompanying regular non-rounded terminal version, Nunito Sans.
Roboto, Open Sans, Montserrat, Lato, and Oswald
Playfair Display is one of two serif fonts on our list of best fonts for UI design. Influenced by Baskerville, Playfair Display should be used if you need a more elegant and sophisticated look in your user interface. This display font features a tall x-height that is well suited for large headings and titles. It comes in 6 weights, plus italics for each weight.
Playfair Display Pairings:
Roboto, Open Sans, Montserrat, Lato, and Raleway
Another Serif on our list, Merriweather was designed to look good on screen. The large x-height, slightly condensed letterforms, mild diagonal stress, sturdy serifs, and open forms ensure readability on screens at small scale. Merriweather comes in 4 weights with italics for each. There is also Merriweather Sans, a sans-serif version that pairs well.
Merriweather Sans, Open Sans, Montserrat, Roboto, Source Sans Pro, and Oswald
Why Is Typography Important In UI Design
As the digital age evolves, more people interact with UI every day. As a result User Experience Design (UX), User Interface Design (UI), and the technologies they are built on are becoming more and more important. Anyone developing a User Interface needs to make sure the experience is intuitive, effortless, and easy to use. This is why choosing fonts for UI can make or break the user experience.
When choosing fonts for UI, it is not all about what feels on-brand. Effective UI Design marries function and form. So how do you choose the right font for UI?
Here are some practical guidelines for choosing fonts for UI.
How To Choose The Best Fonts For UI
Readability & Legibility
You want to look at the context of what the font is being used for, and ask yourself; is it going its job? For example, body copy needs to be easy to read. Headers or display fonts are usually meant to draw attention, while also being readable. As much as clients might want a more unique font from time-to-time, the deciding factor should always be readability and overall usability. For example, below is simply the worst font you could choose for body copy.
Easily Distinguishable Letters:
While some fonts can be aesthetically pleasing and have visually consistent letterforms, this can have a negative impact on readability. Especially when viewing fonts at a small scale in user interfaces. You want distinguishable differences in letterforms to aid scanning.
When choosing the best for UI, look for the following letters in combination to ensure there’s enough difference.
Lower case A, C, E, O: (a c e o)
Capital I, lower case L, and the number 1: (I l 1)
Lower case descenders: (y j p q)
Having clear visual differences between capital I, lower case L, and the number 1 is a good initial test when assessing UI font readability.
X-height, in typography, measures the vertical space between the baseline, and height on lower case letters (ignore capital E and ascenders like the top of h).
It is important to look at the x-height because this area houses the most recognizable part of letters. You should always stress test potential font options be mocking them up as the smallest scale. Look for fonts with good-sized x-heights, as you will notice they are usually more readable.
Pick A Robust Font Family
How many weights does it have? This is an important question, as incorporating 2 or 3 weights can help create hierarchy and emphasis. If the font family has four or more weights, this is a good sign. Furthermore, if the font has a condensed version, this is great for display headers or other branding opportunities outside of UI. Overall, the more weights and versions, the more flexible the font will be for your project.
Google Fonts vs TypeKit – How Do They Compare?
What Google Fonts and Adobe TypeKit have in common is, they are both web font services. These two services deliver fonts from their servers to browsers and websites around the world.
Google Fonts are often preferred by web and mobile designers because they are open-source and free to use. Not to mention they are easy to download and integrate into websites. It’s important to note, a lot of the Google Fonts were designed specifically for web design with site speed in mind. Google Fonts are free for personal and commercial use.
In contrast, Adobe TypeKit is a font service that comes with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. This Adobe CC subscription is rather pricey, at roughly $50 per month. Graphic Designers sometimes prefer TypeKit, because of the high quality and large variety of fonts. TypeKit Fonts are free for personal and commercial use, as long as you have an active Creative Cloud subscription.
What both of these services have in common is, you have to rely on their servers to deliver the fonts. This means page load times will increase slightly.
If you made it this far, I hope you have a good idea of what fonts are best for UI Design. In Addition, I hope you learned what makes a font good for UI purposes. Any of the fonts we recommend are great choices. That said, I know there are even more fonts we didn’t cover, which are solid options for User Interface Design. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on the Arturth Facebook page.
Other typography and font-related resources: