Amazon Changed Its Website Fonts, and Some People Are Not Taking It Well
Author and motivational speaker Felice Leonardo Buscaglia opined that “Change is the end result of all true learning.” The University of Southern California professor must not have met too many Amazon shoppers before passing away in 1998, as a few might have vehemently objected to his stance. That possibility became apparent recently when their favorite internet retailer swapped its Ember font for a Bookerly typeface on its website, compelling many to profess that the Jeff Bezos-led company had committed a major commercial faux pas—namely, fixing what does not appear to be broken.
Having developed the Bookerly font in 2015 for Amazon Kindle e-readers, the business bigwig seems poised to usher out a typeface that also helped said text perusers and debuted only last year. The fact that Bookerly has two years on Ember should, theoretically, make the shift easier for consumers to accept, but many Twitter users ain’t having it, with their reactions including mixes of flat-out disdain, vows never to buy an Amazon product again and gripes about the discomfort that the new view causes, with one user citing her astigmatism as a deterrent to her fully enjoying a trip to the website.
Looks like you are having issues adjusting to our new font. We will consider this as a feedback and will have it forwarded to our internal teams for review. ^AH
— Amazon Help (@AmazonHelp) June 19, 2018
That last complaint is particularly telling, especially since Bezos et al previously noted that Bookerly is “2 percent easier on the eye” than other fonts. Business Insider, in touching on how the switch is “sudden and unexpected,” included a link to a tweet through which Amazon Help noted the company’s “internal teams” would review negative perceptions of the font.
Knowing its reputation as a commercial titan, we're sure that Amazon officials thought long and hard about the change. And it appears the company is taking social media feedback into consideration when evaluating whether to keep the Bookerly typeface or reinstate Ember. But, to our knowledge, it does not appear as if introductory discussions involved the general public. In other words, if nobody had waged a campaign to replace Ember, why has Bookerly taken on dual roles as the Kindle and website font?
Bezos, the world’s richest man, is no fool, and though we know no business can ever please everyone, we wonder if he is asking too much with the likely font modification. The answer, it would seem, rests on the additional feedback that he and his hires receive and how much they value it. With regards to the promotional products world, consumers and buyers, no matter the parties with whom they interact, expect for those businesses to construct and maintain a very user-friendly website.
Serif fonts are not meant for viewing on phones or monitors. Only for print media. You guys missed this totally. How? It looks like an eyesore.
— N (@nspeaks) June 20, 2018
Amazon, simply because of its clout, had to have known it would receive rebukes, but is the backlash an element of a larger cautionary tale for suppliers and distributors? We know businesses are always looking to stay fresh, so, along with considerations of what they will offer their clients, they must never lose sight of how they depict themselves via their websites. Much like they should always proofread, suppliers and distributors may want to consider A/B testing and user feedback surveys, among other means, before making website changes that impact user experience. Fonts seem like a minor thing, but especially for businesses with large e-commerce operations, they can play a major role in making things easier for buyers.