There’s a saying in design that “form follows function”, which means not just that there must be a reason for the decisions, but also means that if the aesthetic doesn’t help what needs to be done, it’s irrelevant. An idea that leads to sharp, sleek and streamlined solutions, when applied correctly.
I am far to be a fan of blindly follow rules or ideas just for what it seems, because many times is when we break them that we create something more meaningful and unique… but we need to do it very consciously, knowing what we are trying to break. Those are the times when disrupt, cause friction, discussion, an argument is the function itself.
That doesn’t seem to be the case here.
In an urge to overly brand its universe, Zwift adopted a new font - which seems very based on the logo needs to be more unique and also what it seems looking from outside - that doesn’t works towards the platform’s main design challenges: to try to balance and ease an user experience that is very unequal and dependent in an infinite series of structural points that are beyond its reach: countless systems and versions for an even more daunting varieties of gadgets. From PCs, Macs, smartphones, tablets, TVs and trainers inumerous setups, a full branch of systems and their versions and, speaking of visuals, a ridiculous amount of screen sizes, resolutions and standards for color, contrast and so on.
Besides the logo, the new retro look font doesn’t deliver, not even close, in terms of function, from its predecessor.
To begin with it’s a very small font for screen reading and small sizes (measured by the height of the lowercase in reference to the uppercase).
The letters are so overworked to be visually strong, independent from one another that makes it hard to read even short sentences. They take too much attention, and reading flow with it. There are strong white space contrast between the letters, separating them and causing a slow rhythm, hard time identifying a word’s silhouettes. The automatic side rolling info resource the game uses seems even worse now, performance wise (deliver information).
All the excessive round corners and strong geometric forms make the letters clunky in small sizes, like some of them are skewed up, others down. It’s really tiring to keep reading this way.
Seems it lacks depth in what it really needs: increased comfort and easy reading, a more resourceful family, with width variations, big lowercase family and maybe specific variation for text and paragraphs.
You just need to compare chunks of headlines and paragraphs and game screen data with the old font and the new to see. Is much, much more pleasant to read the old one.
Zwift doesn’t even have to use the same family for headlines and paragraphs… i understand the urge, because the game, that is not made of headlines, is the main feature here. But this is not helping the experience at all. Performance and brand wise, once that branding IS the experience.
Sorry, but someone needed to say it.
I speak from a Zwift enthusiastic perspective here, really wishing that this platform flourish even further and knowing by fact that this is not written in stone.