Google has designed a free and open source font for all the world’s languages

Five years ago Google set out on an ambitious project to create a font family that encompasses the 800 languages and 110,000 characters found in the Unicode standard. Now available under open source, Noto’s aim is to get rid of the blank boxes that commonly appear when a computer or website isn’t able to display text.


Blank “tofu” boxes (⯐) are often encountered when sending emoji from newer Android and iOS devices to older ones. They appear when a computer or website lacks font support for a particular character. While a blank box in place of emoji is annoying, tofu in languages “can create confusion, a breakdown in communication, and a poor user experience.”

Google set out to solve this problem with the Noto — No more tofu — font project. At the time, it was a necessity for bringing Android and Chrome OS to international markets. By making Noto freely available for anyone to use and modify under an Open Font License, the goal is to permanently remove blank boxes in common languages used everyday.

The enormous project required design and technical testing in hundreds of languages. Specialists in specific scripts were consulted as characters in many languages often change based on the context of the surrounding message. Additionally, Google partnered with Monotype, Adobe, and a network of volunteer reviewers.

More ambitiously, Noto will be used to preserve the history and culture of rare languages through digitization. As new characters are introduced into the Unicode standard, Google will add them into Noto. The full font familydesign source files, and the font building pipeline are available now for free.


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5 Excuses for not Localising a Website

Many organisations planning to enter a new market and attract new customers still choose not to invest time and resources in a multilingual website. Marketing your products or services online with only one, usually an English version of your website can be a challenging task.

Below you can see counter-arguments to the most common excuses of many companies who decide not to speak the language of their customers.

1. It is expensive

Localisation doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You don’t have to localise your complete website to multiple languages. A good solution is to begin with the most important items, such as the homepage and several other pages, to see if the adapted website resonates with your target customers and if it helps to promote your business abroad. In this way you’ll spread your expenses over a period time and invest only in languages or website items that are relevant.

2. I don’t need it

It’s hard to expand to new markets with a monolingual website only. To enter a new market, you’ll have to present your services or products in the language of your target customers. Adapting your products and online presence to the culture of your target market will help you gain trust of your prospects. It will also help to create an impression that you treat your customers individually, respecting their traditions, languages and habits. So, yes, you’ll need a localised website to communicate with your customers abroad and eventually, increase your sales on the new market.

3. Everyone understands English

According to this study 60% of non-native English speakers never buy from English sites and about 50% prefer to buy in their native language. There is also a strong correlation between the amount of time spent on websites with a local language version and ordering products or services from such a website. Even if it seems that nearly everyone understands English, your customers will still prefer to buy products or services from websites in their local language.

4. I don’t have time to maintain it

Do you have time to update your business social media or post news and info about new products? Well, that’s how long it takes to manage a localised website: to add new products, new articles or images. You can also use content management systems or hire a company that offers website management services in multiple languages.

5. It won’t help me

If you think your business has to enter a new market, then website localisation will definitely help you to grow and expand. With a website adapted to the culture and expectations of your foreign customers you’ll be able to increase your sales on the local market, enhance your online presence and gain advantage over competitors.

Your customers around the world might be looking for a business like yours. But you won’t find out about it nor benefit from it with only one standard website version. So, research your target market and start adapting your content to the needs, culture and language of your users.

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