Why Typography

This is the first of a series of articles on Typography and the potential of text on the web

Over the past few months I’ve rekindled my interest in typography; how it works in print and how it works online. I’m also working through two typography books that are very relevant to both typographic work and overall front end design and development. Responsive Typography by Jason Pamental, On web typography by Jason Santa Maria and Professional Web Typography by Donny Truong.

But it wasn’t until fluent that I got a better idea of why typography is important.I got the chance to talk with both Eric Meyer, one of my early web design influences, and Jason Pamental, the author of Responsive Typography and a very good presenter.

What I got out of multiple presentations about CSS, typography and new technologies coming and going away (sadly) is that the basics are still important. With that in mind I’ll look at typography through a series of exercises.

The first thing to learn is that all typefaces are different. What works for the typefaces I chose may or may not work for the typefaces you choose for your projects. Where possible I’ll show the typefaces used in this page against other typefaces (most likely from the ‘web safe’ font set.)

Why worry about typography on the web?

Universal Typography — Tim Brown

I love the web and I’ve been working on digital content for almost 20 years. While I agree with the universality and accessibility requirements for the web (it should be accessible by anyone anywhere, regardless of disability or network connection) the content doesn’t have to be boring or plain

Whether we are reading a paper book or a web page or a iBook or Kindle ebook, typography still matters and it’s still an important part of the design process.

For the longest time I’ve heard that the web is not print and that we shouldn’t look at books as sources for web design inspiration. This may be true: the web is not print. But we’re getting to the point where CSS on its own or a combination of CSS and Javascript will gives a large part of what we see in print in a way that won’t look terrible in older browsers, when the user access it with assistive technology, or when CSS and Javascript are disabled.

I started taking a serious look at typography about 3 years ago. I’m not an expect and I’m most definitely not a professional but I’m learning and the more I learn the more I think we can use the full range of web technologies to enhance the text and the reading experience for our users.

I’m also including several things such as CSS Transitions and Animations that, while not directly related to typography, still affect the way text appears on screen.