I’ve been advocating more daring and bolder use of typography on the web ever since I started the Better Web Type project. Picking a sans-serif font for titles and a serif one for the content is boring. So is placing the title at the top of the post and centre-aligning it. We’ve now had the tools required to design and build more interesting websites with exciting typography but most websites still go for a safer option.
I’ve been trying to achieve this type of design often when I worked on my personal projects. I’ve mostly been looking for inspiration in print and graphic design and tried to translate that to the web. I think I’ve been partially successful at doing that, but something I learned through the process is that websites still prefer to stick with safer approaches when it comes to typography.
My personal website used to be on the matejlatin.co.uk domain and consisted of mostly personal articles. I had only written a few of those in the past few years so it didn’t get a lot of traffic. Long gone were the days when I published an article every week. So the website was updated only every now and then. It was running on Jekyll and was hosted on GitHub Pages. That made a lot of sense when I designed and built it because I wanted to improve my Front-End developing skills, as well as Git.
And the lack of knowledge about typography doesn’t come from ignorance. I learned that web designers are commonly either self-taught and haven’t grasped the importance of typography yet, or they actually studied design but typography was just one of the classes they had to attend.
The machines of the industrial world finally took over the handicrafts. The typography of this industrial age was no longer handcrafted. Mass production and profit became more important. Quantity mattered more than the quality. The books and printed works in general lost a part of its humanity. The typefaces were not produced by craftsmen anymore. It was the machines printing and tying the books together now. The craftsmen had to let go of their craft and became a cog in the process. An extension of the industrial machine.
I got so used to designing (drawing) websites in Adobe Photoshop that I didn’t know where to start. Then I realized that I had already done it in the past with far worse tools then the ones we use now. Web design is not graphic design. It may consist of some of the elements of graphic design but it’s not the same.
Aligning interface elements in Photoshop is pretty easy as it comes with the pre-defined aligning options. And for the 95% those are all you really need. What can you do in those 5% examples when you can’t use these options? Well, it actually depends a lot on what you’re working on. Let’s see a specific example.