On Typography

Posted on September 12, 2017 by mrOr@nge

I still remember my very first design class: Typography 1.

The very first assignment was to manually sketch out the phrase “Success Equals Hard Work” in 3 different typefaces, 12 times. No tracing, but simply studying a typeface and drawing its form. Easy peasy, right? Pssh, just a bunch of letters. I got this.

How very wrong I was.

After spending an entire week in the library with my schaedler ruler, t-square, and crappy day-old college coffee, I finally understood the importance of typography.

Typically when we think of design, we think of illustration, logos, and color.

But typography often becomes an afterthought.

What I’ve learned is that type is one of the most crucial components in great design, and it serves so many purposes: whether it’s to inform, to create legible copy to read, to call out/highlight a point, or to express an emotion or thought.

“A letter is just a shape. And like everything else in design, ask yourself how that shape works in relation with another shape”, my professor used to say. Now imagine a whole paragraph of shapes and how those work together.

Mind. Blown.

That completely changed the way I looked at letterforms.

Those shapes, like any other shapes associate certain thoughts or feelings. Whether it’s a serif that feels more formal or editorial, or a thin and delicate san-serif that evokes a sense of “high end.” Or a big chunky slab serif that creates emphasis and a bold statement.

I won’t even get into kerning (spacing between letters) because that’s a nerd-venture of which there’s no turning back.

Now in the digital age, type plays a huge role in web design, and with web design comes limitations in typeface choices. Typekit and Google Fonts have made it possible for designers to choose a nice range of typefaces but, sometimes you just get bored with the same ones.

We’ve discovered a few of our favorite alternatives to the same ole’ same ole’.

Our top 3 Typekit Fonts:

  • Museo Sans – Museo Sans is one of our absolute favorites because of its many weights. It’s versatile, yet still has character and is very easy to read.
  • FF Tisa – We love a good serif. This is a nice compromise between a slab and traditional serif so it bridges that gap between a print and digital look.
  • Europa Regular – A friendly rounded san-serif. Doesn’t this font just make you want to snuggle a baby? Or a puppy? Or both? (see example below).

Our top 3 Google Fonts:

  • Crimson Text – All hail Adobe Garamond Pro. A timeless classic, but sometimes you need to mix up your serif game. So classy!
  • Lato – A lovely san-serif that is rounded and humanistic, combined with a nice balance of structure. A perfect, harmonious marriage. (Also, fun fact the creator of Lato has the same first name as our fearless lead developer, Lukasz.

  • Open Sans – Last but not least, we love us some Open Sans. Hello, it’s what we use on our site! Great across print and web, it’s a winner winner chicken dinner in our book.
Well there’s our tidbit on type. Hopefully you’ll start to enjoy the beauty of typography (and the necessity of better type) in the wild. It’s everywhere!