Introducing Web Typography Essentials

Jason Tselentis

Jason Tselentis in Learning on June 11, 2015

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, reading nothing but old and mildewed newspapers and books, you know that typography has been undergoing radical changes. As the Web has evolved, so too has digital typography—and for the better. But what’s changed? Why do Web fonts matter? And what will Web Typography Essentials deliver to its readers?

For starters, you’ll see lots of typography, specifically Web typography. And you’ll learn how many of the typography principles you already know translate to the Web. If you’re reading this, chances are you know many of those basics. Use good hierarchy. Avoid any loud or garish effects that might hurt readability or legibility. Set typography in a color and against a background in order to deliver good contrast, and provide good readability. But some of the rules have changed. And some of the rules are new. Even the font you choose from can be different.

The Rules and Typefaces Have Changed

Demos Next

Neue Helvetica

Georgia

Many typefaces have been updated for digital displays, making them optimized for reading on the Web. And some typefaces that were originally developed for digital typesetting have been updated for the 21st century. Take the Demos® typeface family for example, created for digital typesetting during the days when cathode ray tubes were used for electronic displays rather than plasma or LEDs. The original Demos family appeared blunt in places, with its straightforward forms. But the updated Demos Next typeface family has a softer appearance and more variety thanks to twelve styles to choose from, compared to the three found in the original family.

“Web Typography Essentials will enable you to take your Web typography to the next level, or help you streamline your process so you’re working more efficiently. Web typography can make a site stand out from the herd, attract new visitors, and keep visitors coming back.”

Leaving the Standards Behind

If Demos sounds new and intriguing, and even mystifying, maybe that’s because you’ve been limiting yourself to Web-safe fonts, such as the Arial®, Georgia®, and Verdana® typeface designs along with the other “System Fonts.” Yes, these Web-safe fonts are good choices since they’re found on most computer systems and are considered standards, but there are plenty of new fonts outside the Web-safe norm, that are designed specifically for screens. If it saddens you to say “Goodbye” to the Arial, Georgia, Verdana families, and other Web-safe fonts, know that it’s for a good cause: giving your website a facelift. It’s as easy as using fonts from your own server or from an online provider such as Fonts.com’s own Web fonts.

To Boldly Go

Each month you’ll learn about Web typography fundamentals in how-to articles, interviews, and profiles. The demonstrations and examples will enable you to take your Web typography to the next level, or help you streamline your process so you’re working more efficiently. Web typography can make a site stand out from the herd, attract new visitors, and keep visitors coming back. We all want our visitors to have a friendly experience and keep returning, and Web Typography Essentials hopes to give its readers the tools necessary to help make that happen.

Jason Tselentis is a designer, writer, and educator. As Associate Professor at Winthrop University’s Department of Design, he teaches visual communication design, brand strategy and development, Web design, and typography. His writings about design and visual culture have appeared in Arcade, Eye, mental_floss, Open Manifesto, Print, and HOW magazines. Mr. Tselentis also has four books to his credit on design, typography, and design history.

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