I’m a little worse for wear this weekend however I just wanted to write a brief note about a type specimen website published by Google that showcases a collection of Hangul fonts that they offer. It’s difficult to describe what’s going on because 1. it’s completely bananas and 2. it’s unlike any other specimen website I’ve seen before:
Hangul is the alphabet of Korea and this specimen site describes why developing webfonts for the language can get particularly complicated:
In Hangul, the visual balance of a jamo changes in relation to its surrounding jamo, similar to Chinese letters or Japanese kana. For this reason, a Korean font usually includes every possible combination of jamo, resulting in 11,172 glyphs. Developing a font with this many glyphs requires not only significant time and expense, but also results in a much larger file size. For example, Google is developing the Noto fonts to support all languages, and while the Noto Latin font is 445KB, the Noto Simplified Chinese (SC) font is 15.7MB, containing a total of 44,683 glyphs. The large file sizes have been the biggest hurdle to using Korean fonts effectively on the web.
I can’t possibly judge any of these typefaces and how they might address these technical concerns but I can comment on the madness of the design of the website. And I reckon this is just the sort of place where crazy and unintuitive interfaces can best be put to use: by clicking anywhere on the site you switch through several modes in which to test the letters.
I highly recommend you check it out, but here’s one example: