Universal Typeface Experiment
The Universal Typeface Experiment is a promotional website funded by Société Bic, the maker of the Bic pen. The website crowdsources a typeface with mobile users who enter their handwriting on the website using a touchpad and the newly updated BIC pen called the Crystal Stylus, which includes a touchpad-friendly rubber tip.
Though possible to participate using one's fingers, writing with a pen is significantly easier. Notwithstanding this difference, the website offers the contributor the opportunity to sign in and answer some demographic questions, enabling automatic aggregation of statistics about handwriting that sparked an article in the Smithsonian magazine. The downloadable font created by this averaged handwriting experiment is heavily influenced by the user prompt, whereby the user is presented with 26 capital letters in random order in the Arial font. Within the confines of this self-selection bias, regional differences are still easily recognizable.
The website, hosted by Tribal DDB and developed by the Dutch ad agency MediaMonks, was originally intended as a product launch and was scheduled to be taken down in August 2014. It won the "Site of the Month" award by the Favourite Website Awards (FWA) and was still live and accepting contributions in January 2015.
- Case study on MediaMonks website
- This Typeface’s Letters Are the Average of the World’s Handwriting on Wired in July 2014
- Universal Typeface on Tribal DDB's website
- Universal Typeface on FWA website for July 2014
- The Universal Typeface Project Averages the World's Handwriting to Produce an Incredibly Average Font in Smithsonian magazine, 9 July 2014
- The Universal Typeface Experiment Official Website, 29 August 2018