Design, UI, UX, Insights

How to Choose the Best UI Fonts for Apps [+10 Safest Fonts]

Choosing the right font is one of the most important tasks for UI/UX designers. In fact, fonts for apps not only have a huge role in defining the macro visual style of your design but also have a direct impact on the user experience. Here’s why:

  • The right font makes engagement simple with higher readability and legibility.
  • Good fonts mean better UI as it defines the feel of your apps.
  • Fonts have personality and a good personality makes a great first impression.

The right font will increase the potential for user involvement with your app and encourage them to engage. This is why today we’re going to talk about how to choose the right UI fonts for your apps, what to look out for and what are your safest choices for fonts.

 

How to Choose the Best UI Fonts for Your App?

Now let’s learn the basics of how to choose the right font for your apps. There are a few important things you should consider.

The goal of your design. Your first step is to decide how you wish your audience to react to your fonts. Aside from ensuring the basic convenience of easy readability, how would you like your fonts to personalize your brand?

The mood of your overall design: Your fonts will inevitably affect the overall design of your app, so make sure they match it.

Comfortable to read. The basic function of your font is to be easy to read at any size. This means your users should not just be able to read your content, but feel comfortable while doing so. Make it so easy on the eye as if the copy reads itself.

Size matters big time. Another factor that helps font readability and improves your overall design drastically, is choosing the optimal font size. Although there isn’t a blueprint for mobile web typography, there are guidelines you can always turn to:

We can always take the major design systems’ standards as a reference. For example, Material Design uses Roboto 16px for primary font and 14px Roboto for secondary. iOS, on the other hand, uses SF Pro 17px primary and SF Pro 15 px secondary.

From this we can conclude:
  • Primary/Default Body Text: 16-17px
  • Input text: 16-17px
  • Secondary Text: 13-14 px

For secondary text that is, as the name suggests, for the text of lesser importance, use at least 2 sizes smaller font to create that visual hierarchy.

Font scales. Select a mobile font that you can scale on different devices. This will ensure your design flexibility.

One or two fonts at a time. Too many fonts will inevitably distract your users and this will lead to a poor user experience. To prevent this from happening, use just one or two fonts at a time. Your safest option would be to work within one font family.

Test like crazy. All that’s left is to simply prototype and test until you have the best solution. Testing your fonts through prototyping will also save you a lot of time later on as you won’t need to make commitments that might affect the UI.

And if that’s too much work, you can always bet on what’s already been proven effective:

 

10 Universal Fonts for Apps

The Fonts You Can Never Go Wrong With

Typography is never easy. Aside from being legible and comfortable to read, fonts also need to bring the right tone, personality, and psychological effects to your design. This might take a lot of trial and error and mastering typography might take years of experience. However, the good news is that universal fonts do exist and although not always the optimal choice, they surely are the safest ones.

With this in mind, in this section, we will list 10 tested and proven universal UI fonts for apps you can never do wrong with. In addition, each of the mentioned fonts works great paired with any of the other fonts in the list.

1. Open Sans: Humanist Sans-Serif

This font is highly legible and easy on the eyes, which makes it ideal for regular consumption and long usage. You can implement this font for your navigation and body copy at around 12-16ox.

It also looks great paired with Montserrat, Georgia, and Playfair Display.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Open Sans: Creative Tim

  • Type: Humanist sans-serif
  • Styles: 12
  • Designed by: Steve Matteson
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Google Fonts, Open Font License
Font Source

 

2. Montserrat: New Libre Sans-Serif

This geometric sans-serif family with multiple versions is optimized for digital use and is ideal for modern and minimalistic web and mobile apps, both for headings, body copy, and navigation.

It looks best paired with Open Sans, Roboto Slab, and Gill Sans.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Montserrat: Designrr

  • Type: Geometric New Libre sans-serif
  • Styles: 18
  • Designed by: Julieta Ulanovsky and the team
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Google Fonts, Open Font License
Font Source

 

3. Roboto: Grotesque Sans-Serif

This font has a very natural reading rhythm thanks to its dual nature of mechanical skeleton and open curves. The font has served as the default Android font since 2012 and works great as the default font for many apps.

You can pair it with Open Sans, Georgia, and Proxima Nova.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Roboto: Coffee App UI Design by Mubashar Ali Rajput

  • Type: Geometric Grotesque Sans-Serif
  • Styles: 12
  • Designed by: Christian Robertson
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Google Fonts, Open Font License
Font Source

 

4. Proxima Nova: Grotesque Sans-Serif

Proxima Nova has replaced Helvetica as the world’s most popular typeface, used on thousands of websites around the world. It is a modern highly legible font ideal for content-centric apps and platforms.

You can pair it with Georgia, Museo Slab, Playfair Display, and Garamond.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Proxima Nova: Pttrns

  • Type: Geometric Grotesque Sans-Serif
  • Styles: 48
  • Designed by: Mark Simonson
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Adobe Fonts, Free for Personal and Commercial Use
Font Source

5. Poppins: Geometric Sans-Serif

A great potion of web and mobile apps use this popular UI font as it’s very modern, comfortable to read, and gives a lively feel to any application. Poppins is the first-ever Devanagari typeface with a range of weights in this genre.

You can pair it with Playfair Display, Teko, SF UI Display, Open Sans, Gotham, PT Serif, Droid Serif, Roboto, Vollkorn, and PT Sans.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Poppins: Mobile bank app Nikita Ogurechnikov

  • Type: Devangari Geometric Sans-Serif
  • Styles: 18
  • Designed by: Indian Type Foundry, Jonny Pinhorn
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Google Fonts, Open Font License
Font Source

 

6. Avenir: Geometric Sans-Serif

This font family takes inspiration from the geometric style of sans-serif typeface from the 1920s such as Futura, who took the circle as a basis. It’s a futuristic geometric sans-serif, popular for eCommerce websites and mobile apps.

It looks best paired with Georgia, Proxima Nova, and Minion.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Avenir: Fitness Mobile App by Dariia Khomenko

  • Type: Geometric Sans-Serif
  • Styles: 12
  • Designed by: Linotype
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Fonts.com, Premium Font ($55 per Style)
Font Source

 

7. San Francisco: Neo Grotesque Sans Serif

The ultimate Apple font for iOS apps, San Francisco is a neo-grotesque sans-serif typeface, inspired by Helvetica and DIN. You can never go wrong with this consistent, legible, and friendly font widely recognized by iPhone users.

It looks best paired with Lexia and Media sans.

Example of Mobile Apps Using San Francisco: PayGO – Mobile App UX/UI by Kamron Dalimov

  • Type: Neo Grotesque Sans Serif
  • Variations: 8
  • Designed by: Apple
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Apple Fonts, Free for Personal and Commercial Use
Font Source

 

8. Gotham: Geometric Sans-Serif

Gotham’s letterforms were inspired by examples of architectural signs of the mid-twentieth century. Developed for professional use, Gotham is an extremely large family, featuring four widths, eight weights, separate designs for screen display, and a rounded version.

It looks best paired with Mercury, Futura, Roboto, Archer, and Times New Roman.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Gotham: Walter Sophia

  • Type: Geometric Sans-Serif
  • Variations: 60+
  • Designed by: Tobias Frere-Jones
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Typography, Premium (From $169 per Pack)
Font Source

 

9. Playfair Display: Modern Serif Font

Playfair Display is well suited for titling and headlines, great for headings and quotes at 34–38px for main body copy and 84–92px for headings. People commonly use it for portfolios, design agency websites,eCommerce, and hotel apps.

It goes well with Lato, Roboto, Open Sans, Muli, Montserrat, Poppins, Heebo, Work Sans, Circular, and Georgia.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Playfair Display: Build Mmm Page

  • Type: Serif Font
  • Variations: 12
  • Designed by:Claus Eggers Sørensen
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: Google Fonts, Open Font License
Font Source

 

10. Sabon: Old Style Sans-Serif Font

Sabon is an old-style sans-serif font family with a smooth texture, it has been used by many designers and typographers for the creation of old-fashion mobile apps.

It goes well with Avant Garde Gothic ITC and Avenir.

Example of Mobile Apps Using Sabon: 247

  • Type: Old Style Sans-Serif Font
  • Variations: 4
  • Designed by: Jan Tschichold and team
  • Illegibility: High, optimized for web, mobile, and print
  • Source: My Fonts, Premium ($39 per Style)
Font Source

 

Final Words

In conclusion, the best fonts for your apps depend on a huge range of factors from the type of audience to the overall mood of your app. Luckily, there is always the safe option of betting on what’s already been proven effective: the most popular and universal fonts for apps you can never go wrong with.

Let’s end with a brilliant quote by Ellen Lupton: “Although many books define the purpose of typography as enhancing the readability of the written word, one of design’s most humane functions is, in actuality, to help readers avoid reading.”

In the meantime, why not check some of the related articles, and get some more insights or inspiration.

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