You can use typography to greatly strengthen the visual appeal of the sites and apps that you build.

Even if you aren’t a designer, you should be comfortable with some basic typographic principals. In the presentation that is embedded below, I will take you through some basics and help get you started.

Here are a few basic guidelines to help you get started.

  • Remember that typography helps us tell stories. The primary purpose of choosing a font is to communicate the content in a way that makes the most sense. If the font is too difficult to read, often the meaning gets lost.
  • Consider your content before choosing a font for your layout.  This means having as much copy as possible written beforehand.  Setting type with Lorem ipsum as a placeholder often leads to trouble down the road, because real content has character and can be unpredictable.

When choosing a font:

  • Start simple
  • Be playful
  • Explore good resources like Typekit and Fonts.com

When making decisions on layout:

  • Consider Line Height.  Line Height is the vertical space between lines.  You can alter the appearance, context, and potency of your message by adjusting the line height of your copy.
  • Consider Letter Spacing.  Letter Spacing is the horizontal space between letters.  Be careful with letter spacing.  Use it sparingly for maximum effect.
  • Move eyes across the page by varying type.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix type.  Mix thicks with thins.  Change sizes for subheads. (See Slides for Examples)
  • Learn about grids and let them guide you.  For a three-column grid, mentally divide your workspace into three columns and place type accordingly.  Try never to let your copy run longer than two-thirds the width of the page.  Similar rules apply for five-column grids, seven-column grids, etc. (See Slides for Examples)
  • You don’t have to keep copy in strict column blocks when you use a grid.  In fact it can be quite liberating to move copy blocks around to see what affect it might have on your message.

Remember, the goal is to move eyes with type.

For additional information, I strongly recommend checking out these resources:

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
Grid Systems by Kimberly Elam
Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson
Ordering Disorder by Khoi Vinh

Also check out:
Typography Insight by Dong Yoon Park – This is an iPad app that serves as a fantastic introduction to the more specific aspects of fonts and their composition.

Watch the recorded presentation on Vimeo:

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