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Typography

May 4, 2021
Old typewriter letters macro shot

Okay, so… I missed a couple days. Originally, I told myself I would try to write every single day. That seems like a bit of a stretch at this point. To be clear, that’s still going to be my goal, but maybe not on weekends. I wrote on Saturday, but missed Sunday, and Monday was all over the place. Anyway…

Today I’m just going to write something short about typography. Typography is something that I think is often overlooked in my field: web development and design. But I think it’s top of mind for many of the most successful companies in the sector.

This isn’t going to be an in-depth post about the intricacies of different typefaces, or the history, or anything like that. I don’t have the knowledge, or the time to look it up at the moment. I just want to make a couple observations from my personal experience.

The Aesthetic Value of Typography

Selecting a typeface is an exercise in emotional communication. The typeface (or typefaces) you choose say a lot about how and why you’re communicating with someone. They can be serious, or playful, aggressive, or soothing. They add a layer of meaning to the words on the page. In the case of this blog, I decided to go with two fonts from two different typefaces, from two different foundries:

  1. Geeeki from Drawwwn
  2. TG Glifko from Tegami Type

I chose Geeeki because of it’s playful nature, and it’s bold contrasts. I also think it’s a typeface that stands out, which I think might make this blog just slightly more memorable than some other blog.

I chose TG Glifko because of the balance it strikes between functionality and curiosity. In many ways, it’s a pretty standard sans-serif, but with all kinds of odd little details which make it stand out. For example, the lowercase “k” letterform, which feels almost hand-written.

The Functional Value of Typography

It’s important to consider that typefaces serve a purpose. Generally, though not always, the goal is for someone somewhere to read words presented using that typeface. There are exceptions to this, where one might be more interested in using letterforms to create iconography meant primarily to be “viewed” rather than “read.” But in most cases, people choose a typeface because they want someone to read some words (and from that typeface, they’ll choose a font, a.k.a. a variant of a certain weight and style).

That leads to a lot of questions. Are people reading this from a distance? In what medium? Who are these people? Do they have particular needs? It’s easy to forget about those questions and just roll with a default font if you aren’t a designer. For certain types of designers, it’s easy to fall in the trap of prioritizing aesthetics, but it’s important to remember that aesthetics is only part of the equation that must be balanced against function.