If you’ve ever had trouble choosing between the time-honored and the modern, you’ve come to the right place. Even though a web developer has a limited number of font choices to choose from, ill-thought font selections often cancel out all the hard work that goes into a site’s design. The following tutorial guides you through the various font-choices available, anti-aliasing, and some general type-related tips that, I can assure, you’ll consider in your next web project. If you’re a complete virgin to typography, I suggest you do some Googling before continuing on. This type of understanding can help any website design ideas list become much more fruitful.
Serifs & Sans-Serifs
The text on the left is in the popular sans-serif font face Verdana, the text on the bottom left’s in the ubiquitous serif face of Times New Roman. To the right, we see an anti-aliased version of the texts, which I’ll be discussing shortly. The sans-serif (Verdana) paragraphs are set at a font-size of 13px, whereas for the sake of juxtaposition, Serif (Times New Roman) paragraphs are set at a font-size of 15px. They also have line-heights of 19px and 24px respectively, check back this page for a follow-up article on line-height.
I want you to notice the rendering of the two typefaces. If we compare the headings, they’re perfectly legible in all the scenarios. However the sans-serif paragraph texts are comparatively easier to read than their serif counterparts, even more so when you take into account anti-aliased versions.
Before we dissect anti-aliasing, here’s a darker variation to concrete my point.
Again, the sans-serif paragraphs are much easier to read that their serif brethren. Comparing the anti-aliased versions, the serif paragraph can be considered to be as good as illegible.
To define it in the simplest way, anti-aliasing blurs edges to make a font seem smoother. Or if you prefer a tad more technical description, it is the process of removing or reducing the jagged distortions in curves and diagonal lines so that the lines appear smooth or smoother.
So what does this mean for a font-face? Well, the more edges/projections a font has, the more it’s going to be anti-aliased. The more anti-aliased it is, the blurrier its edges will be, the smoothing of the edges often results in text that’s a strain to read, if not illegible. This being the reason for serif typefaces not being used on lower font-sizes. The above image should make it pretty obvious, click on it to see it in its full glory.
Choosing the font-families
Right, so now that you know the nitty-gritty of ‘em, the following tips should help you pick the right font-families for your designs. Also, remember that though the serifs should never be used for the body text, they make for excellent heading typefaces. If your design permits it, a contrast between the various elements of your page could give your design that perfect aesthetic finish. Don’t go crazy though, restrict yourself to two or at most three font variations on the same page.
A touchy one for typographers, considered widely as being a poor emulation of Helvetica. Nonetheless, Arial’s one of the most popular fonts used on the world wide web as it comes bundled with Windows, Mac, Open Office, etc. etc. So ironically it is also one of the most clichéd. No tips for Arial, except maybe use it if none of the other fonts fit into your design.
Georgia is a serif-font designed specifically for screens. It’s rendering at lower font-sizes are very clear and is perfectly suited to be used for body text if required. Use it on a site to give it an artistic or vintage feel.
Times New Roman
If it has Times, you can bet it’s a serif right off the morning newsstand. Though it was designed for screens, it renders poorly on lower font-sizes (as you witnessed above). Use it for a news site or anything related to governance or economics.
Brilliantly legible and renders beautifully at low font-sizes. Forged by Microsoft, the font comes bundled with Internet Explorer and is available in more than 95% of the Macs. It’s one of the finest sans-serif typefaces and also one of my favorites. User Verdana for a site that wishes to communicate an image of reliability or permanence.
Mr. T bears a close resemblance to our friend Verdana, most designers thus choose to pick Verdana over Tahoma. It comes bundled with Microsoft Office so it’s fairly ubiquitous. Use Tahoma if for some reason you develop a disliking towards Verdana but still wish to use a close sibling.
Comic Sans MS
If your website wishes to have even an ounce of credibility, steer clear of Comic Sans. Reminiscent of websites made during Elementary school, this font is by far the worst font selection to be made for any kind of site. If you do feel compelled to use it, do it on your dog/cat’s website or your little sister’s website on fluffy unicorns.
There you go! That should have armed you with a fair bit of arsenal for your next design assignment. If you have any suggestions or criticism, do leave a comment. Also, check back for some more follow up typography articles.
3 Tips to Make Your Blog Better Today
Blogging is one of the most popular forms of online media. The so-called Blogoshpere is comprised of millions of would-be writers clammering about whatever suits them. The majority of blogs are best described as examples of how not to blog. Yes, you read that correctly. Most blogs aren’t worth reading.
Successful blogs are usually characterized (at least when compared to unsuccessful blogs) by the time spent per post. That’s an oversimplification but will work here. Lots of famous entrepreneur’s would have us believe that successful blogging is all about posting frequency. Take Gary Vee for example. He has no shame about posting a <500 word post about how effective <500 word posts can be, if they’re posted often. To be fair, we are talking about and linking to that post.
What fails to reach discussion by these types of personalities is that everything they say is predicated on their fame. The value of the advice in those short blog posts doesn’t come from raw face value. They’re valuable because it’s assumed that someone who “made it” would know the secrets to their own success. Sometimes that comes after the fact.
Start a Successful Blog
There are some killer resources out there for learning how to start a blog. We’re not going to cover all the points one should consider when starting a blog. We are going to outline a general roadmap to success by which you’ll at least know how to get started. Managing a successful blog invovles a lot of time, planning, and insight into one’s audience. The toughest part is getting that first round of website traffic. That’s what this article is all about.
Choose a Platform
Are you starting your own website or do you just want to engage online? If you’re launching a business or brand it’s better to register your own domain and host your own blog. If you’re blogging to build your personal credibility and relevancy (as an author) you may want to choose a third party platform such as WordPress.com or Medium. Each has its advantages.
Third Party Hosts
Here’s a short list of the pros and cons of hosting your blog with a third party such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, or Medium.com. NOTE: Most all of these providers allow for you to use your own domain name for a monthly fee.
- Someone else handles the technical aspects of running your website.
- Often free to use.
- Innate exposure to community members.
- Little to no technical knowledge required to start or maintain.
- Giving another site your traffic.
- Little control over customization.
- Hard to integrate call-outs, calls-to-action, or advertising.
- Waists SEO equity (usually)
If you’re serious about making a living from your blog or website than this is the route you should take. There’s a steeper learning curve, some coding will be required (at some point) and management can get tricky. The benefit is freedom to do whatever the hell you want.
- Complete freedom over content.
- Can’t get banned from your own website.
- Retain all SEO equity.
- Can easily integrate ads, affiliate offers, and profitable code without issue.
- Technical expertise needed
- Have to manage own backups, updates, and server configurations.
- Costs more, in most cases.
- Harder to gain initial traction
Never underestimate the power of branding. The same message coming from a website portrayed as an Entrepreneurial authority resonates differently than one portrayed as a Religious authority. Branding is, among other things, a way to ensure all your efforts build on top of one another. Each piece of content you produce as a brand works to establish your credibility and perception to consumers (of your content.)
Branding goes far beyond website design and finding the best logo design companies. Branding is about letting people know what to expect. Brands aren’t unlike celebrities in that sense. Just like one might expect Adam Sandler to tell a joke about current events one might also expect WordPress to advocate for an open web. Don’t get me wrong, professional logos and website design go a long way. After all, professional design speaks to professional opinion.
Effective branding can also be creating different tones and styles of communication for the same message. For example, both teenagers, young adults, and adults may all enjoy the latest smart phone from Samsung. Creating separate marketing materials for each of those demographics is likely to provide more resounding results. Here’s some tips for understanding the do’s and don’ts of branding:
DO be Specific and Prolific: Trying to cater to every interest will leave you exhausted and with little to show. Focus on specific subjects and interests of your audience and take deep dives into them.
DO Express Moral Objections & Thoughts: Chances are your blog isn’t going to be the only one covering your subject. Readers have an opinion and resonate with blogs that have one as well. This is true to such an extent that most major media sites have devolved into little more than opinionated blogs.
DO Consider New & Different Formats: Repsecting a platform’s native content style is important. Don’t post long-form content to Twitter and don’t post 0:30 sound bytes to SoundCloud. You won’t know how your audience responds to Podcasts unless you try them. Try to make an educated guess before trying everything though.
DON’T Get Political Unless You’re Prepared to Stay Political: There’s no quicker way to isolate a segment of your visitors than to take one side of a political issue. Criticizing both sides is an easy out here, if you must weigh in.
DON’T Be Afraid to Be Politically Incorrect: This is probably the most controversial piece of advice we have to offer. Modern media has trained us to be hyper-reactive to issues of political correctness. You shouldn’t consider yourself having carte blanche to offend but don’t get worried about users on 4Chan getting upset about your last press release not neutralizing every gender pronoun.
Be Predictable When it Counts
Connecting to an audience is all about developing rapport. Single-author blogs aren’t likely to post meaningful content every day (or every week for that matter) but can probably swing one each month. Delivering content to your audience in a predictable manner helps them know what to expect. This little tidbit of a reward system goes a long way.
Being un-predictable pays off as well. Finding topics that will surprise your audience can be a powerful tool. This isn’t really something one can teach but certainly correlates strongly with successful blogs. Think to yourself “why is my content better than other blogs’?” By the same token, producing too much content that takes readers off guard can work against you.
If you have a popular automotive blog it might benefit you to publish an insightful article about parallels between the aviation industry. You may start to lose readers if every post starts doing the same though. Don’t be a one-trick pony. Starting a successful blog is no easy feat. Developing the ability to balance what readers know they want to read with what they don’t yet know what they want to read is an art. The sooner you get started the sooner you’ll become an artist!
Design Trends to Expect in 2019
The internet business community is now entering a new business cycle. 2018 was a year of growth. We have seen numerous positive changes in the online business community. We are seeing radical changes left and right. Governments attempted to regulate the internet community as a whole all in the name of general welfare and the common good, but numerous businessmen and online business conglomerates launched boycotts and protests reminding governments the effect of an internet-less world.
As a result, the brilliant website designers and website owners created ways and means to make a website not solely under a jurisdiction of a single government entity. Security features of websites also became tougher to protect websites from government intrusion and criminals. Website design also remained free and virtually unregulated for the year 20182 – and the only regulatory mechanism is the market which boycotts or promotes a good website. Attempts from some sectors were made to regulate website design again all in the name of the common good – protect local employment and non-transfer of intellectual property – but all attempts were futile. Let’s take a look at the design trends to expect in 2019.
Responsive and Adaptive Website Design
Many website design firms have reminded readers that responsive and adaptive website design allows building websites that are optimized for screens of all sizes – small mobile devices, tablets, and large desktop monitors. The trend will continue because the technology cannot be stopped. Improvement in communications technology including mobile phones is not subject to regulation, and this causes a surge in the demand for responsive website design. Simply put, a responsive website design means that the design is flexible in desktop, smartphone and tablet screens. An adaptive website design is what we need to remain competitive next years as more and more people are using smartphones and tablets for their everyday needs.
According to many website designers we’ve spoken with, parallax is a technique achieved with multiple layers of a website that are scrolling at different speeds creating an illusion of a 3D effect. Parallax screening is a way for website designers to reach the all-important target audience for their customers. If you look closely, parallax screening is part of responsive website design. Through parallax screening, the customer can get to scroll and view the numerous contents from different websites using his tablet or smartphone.
Minimalism is Re-emphasized
There are always downsides for technology but the same are remedied by the market. Because of the arrival of numerous cameras, the photography industry is said to be diluted. The so-called “old guards” of photography are complaining about the surge of new amateur photographers using all sorts of picture-taking devices made in China. Well, at the end of the day, the best photographers – whether they are new or old- are the ones hired by the clients. The same is true in website design. With the emergence of hundreds of photo-editing devices and increased memory systems, the design community is sto aid be diluted and one website designer even went on to claim that designing can now be done by kids. However, the market fixed the defects and minimalism is back. In fact, only professionals and those with lengthy experience in website design can create a truly minimalist website taking into consideration all factors.
Designed Typography will take Center Stage
Typography is becoming an integral part of web design ideas and projects and the use of custom fonts will be an essential creative asset, contributing to the overall identity of a website as much as other important elements such as colors or artwork. If 2018 was the year when color scheme took center stage, 2019 will be a battle for font styles. Designers and website developers are busy looking and creating the perfect fonts to catch the attention of the target clientele.
5 Health Tips Every Web Designer Needs to Hear
Health isn’t often a leading topic among conversations between website developers. Tech and health don’t always mesh—sometimes they do—though health has a way of affecting every aspect of our lives. If you feel bad you won’t tackle problems as well and your designs will reflect your mood. Sure, every professional would like to think they’re above such influence but the truth is we’re just a bunch of animals. This article is all about sharing some valuable health tips to help keep your website design company up-and-running by helping you be the best version of your self.
Good Health is Not Easy
Feeling good is only easy for those among us that do it by default. For those whose first response is fatigue, negativity, or chronic illness there’s an uphill battle ahead. Making a conscious effort to take steps to improve one’s health is the only way by which anything meaningful will ever be accomplished. No one’s going to do it for you. We’re no doctors here at DesignOra but we all have an interest in performing our best on the job. Taking steps to ensure our health is as good as it can help us maintain our edge when it comes to landing new clients, nailing our projects, and coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems. After all, no one’s going to redefine their design approach when they feel like shit.
Exercise Every Day
Exercise continues to be the simplest and most substantiated benefit for human health. Our ancestors passed the time by running dozens of miles, hunting fierce predators, and rarely sitting down for a break. In fact, sitting at a desk (or even standing at a desk) isn’t what the human body and mind have evolved to accel at. Being in a moving environment not only helps signal our bodies to release the hormones we need to feel good but it also helps modulate our immune system. Our brains do better when given dynamic situations to navigate and draw relevance from. If a new concept is learned within the context of something easy to remember chances are you’ll learn it more completely. Crawl before you walk and walk before you run. No need to start powerlifting on day one. Walking 15-30 minutes each day is a great first step.
Get Quality Sleep
Pushing the boundary of one’s wakefulness to finish up a last-minute revision on a project already past its deadline is a common part of web design. Staying up all night (and waking up first thing in the morning) is considered a rite of passage for most but it takes its toll. Sleep deprivation is one of the strongest correlating factors with all major disease (right after exercise!) If you’re not getting enough sleep you’re doing yourself a disservice. Putting in 8 horizontal hours each night isn’t guaranteed to cover your ass though. Quality is as important as quantity when it comes to sleep and if you’re sleeping poorly it doesn’t matter how long you’re down for. I recently helped redesign a website that features lots of mattress reviews. My first impression was to be mesmerized by how many different types of mattresses there are out there. My second impression was that one can buy a quality mattress without taking out a loan these days. Not only can you visit their website to get a nice example of modern website design but also get some quality mattress recommendations!
Eat Good Food
Fad diets aren’t something that you should pay attention to. Anyone offering you a way to lose X pounds in X days is blowing smoke up your ass and deserves to be force-fed a tub of butter. Assessing your overall nutrition is something that can make a difference though. If you eat fast food, frozen food, preserved food, or just about any food ordered from chain takeouts there’s a big chance that you’re not getting the nutrition you need. Hiring a nutritionist to help you build a customized dietary plan is a great idea but not affordable for everyone out there. Instead, I like to follow a few simple rules:
- Eat organic when possible
- Cook your own food
- Balance your macros (carbs, fats, protein)
That’s not too hard, right? There’s an infinite degree of complexity one can introduce to their diet but these simple guidelines can make a world of difference. Cutting out processed foods, eating whole foods (things you buy in the grain, produce, and meat section at the grocery store) can have a tremendous impact on your cognitive and physical health.
Live a Balanced Lifestyle
There’s not much scientific language to frame this one with. Just imagine I’m putting on my Zen-Master robe as I write. Web development, software engineering, and any discipline that involves nuanced problem solving take a lot of mental effort. In our fields, there are strong incentives to devote oneself to seeing the world primarily from the mental perspective. It’s easy to forget to assess situations based on the physical sensations you feel or your emotional perception when you have to think all day. It’s a force of habit; akin to muscle memory (mind memory?!) Recognizing that one needs to have physical and emotional experiences each day to support their mental ones is easier said than done. The first tip I can offer is to consider your exercise a physical task. Don’t spend your whole time at the gym thinking about your deadline or how late your client is on paying their last bill. Focus on how the fibers of your muscles feel, how the air feels in your lungs, and how the ground feels beneath your feet. Check out, and give yourself permission to do so.
Laughter is Good Medicine
Laughter might not cure cancer but it damn sure helps lower the risk of chronic health issues. The human immune system is comprised of (among many other things) receptors for a class of compounds known as Enkephalins. Among them are the feel-good compounds we call Endorphins that get released when we laugh, exercise, have sex or do some types of drugs. These compounds are our bodies’ way of signaling to us that we’re doing something good! Chronic and regular release of these compounds has been shown to have a modulatory effect on the human immune system so much so that synthetic mimetics are used to treat a varying number of diseases. Common drugs used to treat opioid addiction (opioids are very similar to endorphins) are often used as general immune-boosting therapies for patients with conditions unresponsive to conventional care. Laughing and feeling good is one of the two best ways to help ensure your body stays in tip-top shape!
We aren’t doctors and aren’t giving medical advise (our lawyer would be happy that we’ve said that!) This article is only meant to help bring some attention to how important health is in everything we do. That includes website development! By taking effective steps towards feeling better you will, without doubt, end up being a better designer. There is no scenario in which you are healthier in which you don’t become more capable—even if it makes you realize you hate web design. I mean, let’s be honest; sometimes at 2am, I feel like I’m torturing myself on purpose. One email. Could. Stop. It. All. Clients. Hate. SHIT. Seriously though, live a healthy life and you’ll find that happiness might not be far behind!