Cross-Cultural Design | A List Apart

Senongo Akpem’s Cross-Cultural Design has been on my radar a lot lately; I probably should pick it up. In the meantime, A List Apart have released a little subsection with some interesting insights:

  • Stereotypography is the stereotyping of a culture, region, or other group via a specific font style or typeface. Example used is Neuland, which to me is the Jurassic Park font but apparently has a long historical association with Western ideas of the "Dark Continent" version of Africa i.e. racism. Advice is to avoid any type that attempts to "invoke" a culture, particularly if it has been designed apart from that culture. Makes sense, but worth being reminded of.
  • Google Fonts is banned in China, so use of their free web fonts is non-global without workarounds.
  • Different alphabets have different "visual density" expectations. Asian alphabets such as Japanese are information dense, so readers are used to less white-space but need larger glyphs than in traditional Western alphabets like Latin. I'd never considered that white-space would be a culturally defined construct, not to that basal a level at least.

I don't work with localisation at all, but it's clear that if you do, there's a lot more to consider.

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