Typography

This topic so wide and varied that I will only discuss basics here. There is absolutely no way that I will be able to do more than scratch the surface of this convoluted and fascinating subject. So let us get scratching…

The basic idea of typography stems from the original typefaces of movable type printing, but the flexibility and DIY nature of the digital age have transformed the field into something between a design topic and an obsession for most people involved.

The theories underlying typography are microcosms of the theories of design itself; readability, uniqueness, and space play essential parts.

Readability seems self – evident, but the ‘absolute readability’ of the font itself is only the beginning; things like proper contrast and sufficient size can make even somewhat convoluted typefaces perfectly acceptable on the page. Nothing is worse than bad color choices for a page, but bad font colors (think small pink text on an orange background) are either a mark of incompetence or (at best) a lame black hat SEO strategy.

The use of small font resulting in readability issues is so common in many contract we sign everyday without reading the “fine” print. Take for example your car insurance policies. Do you read all the fine print? You can bet money the car insurance company lawyers do. When I was in a serious car accident that involved a truck and multiple cars I ended up hiring a car & truck accident lawyer because of all that fine print not only on my insurance policy but the trucking company’s policy and the policies of other car drivers. While I was recovering, going to rehab, and slowly getting my life back together, my car accident lawyer was dealing with the insurance companies and filing a lawsuit against the truck driver and the company she worked for. Thank goodness for lawyers who cross their “t’s” and dot their “i’s” and read all the “fine” print.

Another type of contract that should be read carefully are those warranties that are associated with big ticket items. When I bought my 16’ x 32’ Admiral’s Walk above ground pool, I carefully checked out their 30 year warranty and customer service policy on pool wall and frame. A 30 year warranty sounds amazing. Because it was a LIMITED warranty I read all the fine print. The pool is a big investment and I wanted to make sure I would not be disappointed 5 or 10 years down the road. The store, RoyalPools & Spas where I made the purchase was great. Walked me through all the details. Now at the beginning of every pool season I visit their orange county pool supplies store and and stock up. They also come out once a year to check out the pool with a free computerized water analysis. Royal Pools & Spas also offers an Enhanced Liner Warranty to further protect your investment. For the first 3 years after the date of install, if the liner fails due to manufacturer defect, they will cover the water, labor and chemicals to repair the liner. While most pool manufacturers offer a new liner, there is absolutely no coverage for these other very costly items, so it’s a great deal from Royal Pools & Spas. All I can say is read that fine print.

Space is pretty obvious too, but as I said before there are “micro” as well as “macro” considerations. The space between lines, between letters, between the various tiny little black strokes that make up the letters themselves… all of these contribute to the effect. Whether you are creating type or simply choose between fonts, it only makes sense to see how the font will work with itself and on the intended design.

An interesting option, most often either overused or underused, is the variations of a single font (i.e., italic, bold, point size, color) to delineate varying emphasis and existing options. Likewise, using more than one font has a tremendous potential for overall messiness unless subtly deployed. Then it can be a great way to create hierarchy. Titles, headings, and captions are regularly displayed with varying point size, but may benefit from other ways to establish hierarchy as well. And I have seen several menu structures that forgo the usual graphical boxes for a nicely chosen set of subtle type variations.

And then, once these typographical decisions have been made, put it together in a way that can be easily found using Google by deploying robust enterprise level SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If no one can find your great work, it does not matter how great the typography is. Enterprise seo is the art of using both relevance and structure to design websites so that the content ‘conveys’ relevance in an optimal way so that the search engines credit the site with high ranks on important terms. This is the skill set that makes it possible for businesses to be found when their products and services are searched for in Google.

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