In its most basic form, type is an interface. It communicates an intended message to the user, facilitates communication, and incites a response. Type’s application is versatile – the written word communicates effectively across disciplines: in environments, in print, onscreen, and on packaging. But as simple as the relationship between type and communication may sound, just any typeface won’t always work. As with any aspect of user interface design, the type used must respond to the user needs and form a relationship with that person. For such a vital mission, it is essential to know how to use type with motion effectively.
In any effective user interface design, using the correct typeface for the job is based on solving a problem and meeting a need. A frequent mistake designers make is choosing typeface according to their own tastes instead of according to user needs. This is a dangerous trap to fall into: Instead of serving as a vehicle for the artist’s expression, an effective interface design is first and foremost a communication tool tailor-made for the user.
What a user needs to take from an interface depends on the interface itself and the intended communication. There are physical considerations when it comes to typeface design, like resolution, size, and contrast.
Connecting Through Type
Consequently, the most important thing to do when selecting an appropriate typeface for an interface is determining the needs of the user. Issues like where the type will be read, the message it is trying to communicate, and who the user is should all be taken into consideration.
Physical laws to consider:
- Our eyes
- Our brain
Consider the cultural parameters:
- Reading habits
- Literary culture
You can’t ignore these if you want to communicate to many people. We read best what we read most. These laws of perception as well as cultural traditions have to be taken into account.
Therefore, it’s important that the emotional and practical weight of a typeface be evaluated in terms of media and the user it is associated with. When determining what the right type is to use for a job, it’s important to think of the user.
And no matter who the audience is, you have to make sure that the type is coherent within its interface. In other words, type should first and foremost be a vehicle of communication, and not the message itself.
20 Typography Inspirational Sites
I love Typography (ILT) was born on August 8, 2007. It was born from a desire to bring the subject of Typography to the masses. It is designed to inspire its readers, to make people more aware of the typography that’s around them.
We Love Typography is a natural extension to ILT. It is an image, video, & text ‘bookmarking’ site that is wholly dedicated to type-related content.
Active discussion board with font identification and type design critique forums.
A daily journal of typography featuring news, observations, and open commentary on fonts and typographic design.
TypeTogether is commited to excellence in type design with a focus on editorial use. Additionally, TypeTogether caters tailored type design for corporate use.
Robert Bringhurst’s book The Elements of Typographic Style is on many a designer’s bookshelf and is considered to be a classic in the field. Indeed the renowned typographer Hermann Zapf proclaims the book to be “a must for everybody in the graphic arts, and especially for our new friends entering the field.”
Founded in 1994, Porchez Typofonderie is an independent digital type foundry in France. This is the first place in the world to buy our typefaces.
An international organization for all people who are devoted to excellence in typography, both in print and on screen.
The Typographer.org website is an eternally evolving not-for-profit typography project. During its fifth and current phase, it is a joint project between David and Yves Peters – David providing the bulk of news items and in the role of publisher, with Yves writing comprehensive reviews of the cream of recent typeface releases in his Bald Condensed column.
Jon is a designer and a member of the International Society of Typographic Designers. His work has featured in magazines like .Net and countless design galleries. Three of his sites were nominated in three different categories in the CSS World Awards 2006 with two featuring as finalists.
Nice Web Type is one place for web typography, using their collective knowledge for the betterment of typographic style and practice.
TypeNeu was founded in January 2008 and have ever since reported and added to the typographic culture. Behind the concept, the design and the development of TypeNeu is the digital designer Emil Olsson.
The Ministry of Type is a weblog by Aegir Hallmundur, about type, typography, lettering, calligraphy and other related things that inspire him.
Ace Jet 170 is a blog written by an English graphic designer whose interest include type and print. His job includes developing and implementing brands and corporate IDs.
The FontFeed is a daily dispatch of recommended fonts, typography techniques, and inspirational examples of digital type at work in the real world.
Font shop includes talks about the latest fonts, using type, competitions and a whole lot of font news.
Typesites is a weekly showcase of websites with interesting typographic design. Typesites is a community authored blog, with an expanding amount of guest authors.
Design Observer, and its related channels, Observatory, Change Observer, Places and Observer Media, are owned and operated by Observer Omnimedia LLC, and are collectively referred to here as The Design Observer Group Sites. Design Observer was founded in October 2003 by Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand and Rick Poynor with design and technology by Ruby Studio.
FontStruct is a free font-building tool brought to you by the world’s leading retailer of digital type, FontShop. FontStruct lets you quickly and easily create fonts constructed out of geometrical shapes, which are arranged in a grid pattern, like tiles or bricks.
Remember to consider physical laws and cultural aspects the next time before you decide a certain font for your design art work. Depending on the interface that type is used with, sometimes comprehension is downright crucial. Because how people interpret information could even be a matter of life and death.
Think of it this way, the difference between being a survivor and being a casualty could be as simple as finding a ‘Way Out’ sign. Although not every interface will have such dramatic consequences, it does go to show that you don’t want to chance your message to interpretation by confusing your user with the interface.