Tag Archives: typography basics

typography tips for designers

20 Wise Thoughts by Typography Master Erik Spiekermann

Good design is often based on a careful mix of tradition and innovation. And revolutionary inventions are solidly based on the findings by previous generations of professionals. So, whatever a domain of creative work you have chosen as your job, it’s important to sometimes stop and look back, listening to wise and experienced voices of people being in that job for years.

 

Earlier we have already shared numerous expert quotes, tips, video talks and books worth reviewing to support our readers with useful resources. In particular, you could check the insights into Design Is a Job by Mike Monteiro and  Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter—the books belong to the series A Book Apart for designers offering the diversity of expert tips, case studies, and resources. Today continuing on this way, we are sharing a new set of quotes by Erik Spiekermann, a famous German typographer, designer and writer, an honorary professor at the University of the Arts Bremen and ArtCenter College of Design. Having passed the long way in graphic design from 1970s, being an author of books and articles as well as awards winner, he is justly recognized as a guru of typography and avidly shares his experience and expertise. So, here we will save a bunch of 20 useful expert tips for Tubik Quotes Collection — we got them from his blog, his interview for 99U and other published writings.  Join in and let’s look into his thoughts together to know a bit more about the master.

 

erik spiekermann photo

 

I’m very much a word person, so that’s why typography for me is the obvious extension. It just makes my words visible.

 

Inher­ent qual­ity is part of absolute qual­ity and with­out it things will appear shoddy. The users may not know why, but they always sense it.

 

These days, information is a commodity being sold. And designers—including the newly defined subset of information designers and information architects—have a responsible role to play. We are interpreters, not merely translators, between sender and receiver. What we say and how we say it makes a difference. If we want to speak to people, we need to know their language. In order to design for understanding, we need to understand design.

 

Erik Spiekermann Quotes Design 06

 

The materials shape your idea.

 

I learned that a brand isn’t a logo. There has to be implementation. You can design anything, but if the rubber doesn’t hit the road, you’ll be remembered as a great strategist but the client won’t call you again. You have to have a strategy, and you also have to be able to visualize it—one doesn’t go without the other.

 

Erik Spiekermann Quotes Design 05

The attention someone gives to what he or she makes is reflected in the end result, whether it is obvious or not.

 

I’ve always designed typefaces for specific solutions. In other words, a problem. Everything has always been done for a specific purpose. As a designer, you work for somebody else. That’s not negative. I work for a client, and I solve their problems. I bring my artistic vision to it, my creativity, whatever you want to call it. But essentially, I’m being paid to blow somebody else’s trumpet.

 

You are what you are seen to be.

 

Erik Spiekermann Quotes Design 04

 

The function has to be the brand. If it works well, it has to be branded at the same time.

 

If a design project is to be considered successful—and success is the true measure of quality—it must not only add an aesthetic dimension, but solve the problem at hand.

 

I mean, everyone puts their history into their work.

Erik Spiekermann Quotes Design 02

 

When I do typography, it’s 150 percent effort.

 

I know a lot of advertising agencies that thrive on overtime because they have a dozen interns who work for free and they spend their weekends doing free pitches. We don’t do free pitches because we don’t have any free time. Our time is valuable, and I’m not giving away ideas to some prospective client. That’s giving away the most valuable resource you have.

 

Work is gas. Work will fill any given volume.

Erik Spiekermann Quotes Design 03

 

 

Clients need to understand that they’ve hired us to do something they are not good at. And that they need to pay us for our knowledge, skills, experience and, yes: attitude.

 

 

My advice, now and always, is learn, learn, learn—starting right here.

 

Contrary to popular belief, designers are not artists. We employ artistic methods to visualize thinking and process, but, unlike artists, we work to solve a client’s problem, not present our own view of the world.

Erik Spiekermann Quotes Design 07

Being a designer is all about attitude. Sure, you have to know your craft, but as we both found out, you can pick most of that up over time if you’re prepared to listen, watch, and learn. Without the right attitude, however, you’ll always be a vendor to some people, a crazy artist to others.

 

So what’s new? The present generation of UI/UX designers may think that they invented a new way of designing, but we’ve had these issues forever. Trying to fit a lot of text onto the how-to page inside a pharmaceutical package is probably more difficult than doing the same on a screen. There’s no zoom on that paper, so it has to be really well done just for that one version and circumstance. My method? Think. Consider. Sketch. Think again. And look around you. It’s all been done before, albeit with different code.

 

Inspiration. From real life. I open my eyes and I travel and I look. And I read everything.

 

Erik Spiekermann Quotes Design 01

 

Bonus: video talks with Erik Spiekermann on design, typography and life lessons

 

Typographic Design in the Digital Domain

 

 

Erik Spiekermann: Typomaniac

 

 

Erik Spiekermann – Type Is Visible Language

 


Welcome to check the quotes by Mike Monteiro from «Design Is a Job» and by Aarron Walter from «Designing for Emotion«

Welcome to check issues of Tubik Quotes Collection on brandingusabilityuser-centered design and content strategy

Welcome to read or download Tubik Magazine free books on logo designdesign for business and problem-solving web design

typography tips for designers

8 Typography Tips For Designers: How to Make Fonts Speak.

Typography is a way of communication with users. Visual performance and readability of copy in digital products have the great impact on user experience. One of guru graphic designers, Hoon Kim, once said: «Typographic design is visible as well as audible. If you have a great scenario, now it is time to cast good actors.» Typography can become a voice of design. Appropriate typography speaks for itself setting the right mood and transferring a certain message to users. Today’s article presents tips which will assist you in creating of effective typography.

 

Typographic hierarchy makes things work

 

To create a design pleasant for users’ perception, all its elements should be well organized and clear to navigate. Designers set a proper structure by establishing a visual hierarchy. It organizes all the visual elements so that users could easily perceive content.

 

Visual hierarchy can be divided into different parts. One of them related only to the copy elements is called typographic hierarchy. It aims at organizing copy content by dividing it into various types such as headings, subheadings, body copy, captions and others. The differences between the types of copy are set by regulation of family, sizes, width, and colors of fonts.

 

Clear typographic hierarchy makes text legible and easy to scan. Moreover, it’s simple to highlight key parts of the text to draw users’ attention and hitch them to the expected actions.

 

mood messenger landing page

Mood Messenger Landing Page

 

Consider context and audience

 

When it comes to the choice of fonts, an essential thing to consider is a context of a copy and a potential audience. Each font brings its own mood to a layout. There are friendly, funny, serious, business, and many other fonts that will fit a certain design.

 

Before you choose a font, you need to learn your client’s goals as well as needs and preferences of a target audience. Visual performance of fonts influences the first impression users get from the product. If the kind of font doesn’t fit the mood which the product aims at, there can be a misunderstanding with the audience. For example, if a designer chooses a font which looks too fun and silly for a business website, users will hesitate if the company is trustworthy. Or, if a product is meant for youngsters, too formal fonts may seem boring.

 

web design florist store ecommerce

Florist E-Commerce Website

 

Deep attention to mobile typography

 

Designers often do the experiments with typography to make a project original. However, when it comes to mobile UI design, typographers are literally short of space. Mobile screens are quite small which sets a new challenge for designers to cope with restrictions without loss of sense and functionality. Mobile typography requires deep attention to the details from an appropriate size of fonts to compelling tracking and line length.

 

Compared to web design, mobile typography is harder to reach a good legibility. The font size shouldn’t be too small because on tiny screens it will look like an illegible mess. Moreover, if the text is too big, it won’t fit the small screen too. In addition, designers need to care about the level of contrast since a screen with ambient light and high contrast can hurt users’ eyes.

 

Furthermore, a designer should think of the typography functionality. Smartphone UI includes clickable text parts and designers need to make sure users manage to use them. If these parts are too small, people can’t press it with a finger and it’s rather annoying.

 

Considering all the tiny details in mobile typography, designers can bring valuable products for users.

 

UI animation wine app

WineYard App

 

Minimalism can’t hurt

 

Sometimes, when designers aim at showing all the facets of a digital product, they try to use lots of various styles and fonts all in a single design. As a result, they get a design overloaded with unnecessary distracting details and lacking a proper mood.

 

Experts usually try to keep a number of fonts within two or three for the same layout. It allows making an essential contrast between copy elements along with saving the balance and right message of a design. Applying different styles (bold, italic) should also be minimal. They are good for emphasizing really important parts but the overuse of them can make the text look messy.

 

Also, copy content shouldn’t overwhelm users with the unnecessary information. Of course, it’s a writer’s job to create appropriate text still designers need to collaborate with them to make sure the text will fit a design.

 

upper app UI design case study

Upper App

 

Text needs to breath

 

Legibility level highly relies on how much space there is between letters, words, and text lines. Tracking, kerning and leading are the processes of white space adjustment between the typographic elements. White space is the area between elements in a design composition.

 

A lack of white space may end in the bad legibility of copy content because it is difficult to distinguish words which are placed too tight to each other. Appropriate white space brings a visual relief to users’ eyes and allows going easily from one word to another, from one line to the next. However, try not to overuse it otherwise it can ruin text unity.

 

dance_academy_website_interactions_tubik

Dance Academy landing page

 

Build typography like a scientist, revise like an artist

 

Typography is a complex science consisting of many rules and regulations. Those who covered them are able to create clean working typography. However, it’s is not enough. Clients always require originality and emotion but it can’t be done only by following the written instruction.

 

Designers should never bury their artistic souls. Imagination and the sense of beauty bring the uniqueness in any project, even the most casual one. Find the balance between the strict rules and unordinary choices, and the results may surprise you and your customers.

 

web design UI tubik studio

The Gourmet Website

 

Colorful typography needs thoughtfulness

 

The topic is actively debated. Some think there is no room for color in typography and some claim it’s a must-have for good-looking design. There is no point in looking for the right side of the dispute because there is no accounting for taste. Nevertheless, colorful typography does exist and designers apply it quite often.

 

Among the advantages of colorful typography, let’s mention the element of emotion it adds to any UI as well as the ability to highlight points of interests for users. Moreover, each color may transfer a certain message since it has an influence on users’ mind and behavior.

 

To take all the benefits, colorful typography should be applied thoughtfully and carefully because it’s easy to turn UI into a colorful chaos. Here is the useful checklist for this case:

 

Make it contrast. A big problem which colorful typography may bring is bad legibility. Proper contrast between the fonts and background will help to avoid it. However, make sure the contrast looks pleasant and doesn’t hurt the eyes.
 
Don’t use too many colors. Again, try not to turn UI into a mess. Too many colors look distractive and amateur.
 
Color harmony. Remember the basics of art lessons. Use the color wheel and schemes to choose the proper palette.
 
Be careful with effects. Fluorescent, luminescent, metallic, and glowing colors have their peculiarities and they may not always look good on a digital screen.

 

book swap app interaction design

Book Swap App

 

Learn the basics of typography

 

It may sound too obvious still some designers ignore learning basics of typography science. They rely on modern tools which automatically choose the fonts or just hope aesthetic features of chosen fonts would be enough. Such an approach seems like learning to read without knowledge of the alphabet.

 

Designers who don’t know the concepts and the anatomy of typefaces can’t use the potential of typography at the full strength. Everyone decides for oneself if they need to learn the science in depth but the basics is a foundation of every craft.

 

The experts working on the problem of harmonical usage of fonts gladly share their knowledge that’s why there are so many useful books on typography for designers. As the recommended reading we can name

 

tubik typography and design books

 

Recommended reading

 

Here are some articles providing useful tips and tricks in typography.

Do’s and Don’Ts of Typography

The 8 biggest typography mistakes designers make

10 typography tricks every designer should know

Typography in UI: Guide for Beginners.

Tips on Applying Copy Content in User Interfaces


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

typography in UI design web mobile

Typography in UI: Guide for Beginners.

People read all the time. It’s not only books or magazines but various info on the Internet, adverts in the streets, in public transport or outside shops. However, only minority of readers may know how much time and effort often stand behind a single line. When we easily read a copy feeling comfortable and relaxed, many thanks go to a designer. Text arrangement and the aesthetic look of fonts are among designers’ top priorities. To create effective UI and clear UX designers learn basics of typography science. Today’s article covers basic points in typography which every professional designer should comprehend and apply in work.

 

What’s typography?

 

Typography is something bigger than just a design technique. A Canadian typographer, Robert Bringhurst, in his book The Elements of Typographic Style defines typography as the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form. In addition, typography transforms language into a decorative visual element.

 

Typography has a much longer history than the design or the Internet itself. First, it appeared approximately in the 11-12 centuries when people invented movable type system. A real typography revolution started after the Gutenberg Bible, the first major book printed via movable metal type, which marked the beginning of the age of the printed book in the West. The style of type used in Gutenberg Bible is now known as Textualis (Textura) and Schwabacher.

 

Nowadays, it is more than just copy printing and organization. Commonly, typography is defined as the art and science of font style, appearance, and structure which aims at delivering the aesthetic and easily readable copy to readers. Not that long ago, it was a specialized study for editorial office workers but now the science is applied in different spheres and plays a significant role in design.

 

The role of typography in design

 

Can you think of at least one example of web or mobile design without copy elements? It’s difficult, right? Still, just a presence of copy in the interface is not enough for effective UI and positive UX. Copy and its appearance should be well-thought otherwise it may spoil the design. There are designers who ignore typography studies because they think it’s too difficult to understand so it isn’t worth spending much time. However, typography is an essential part of the effective design. Let’s see why.

 

People got used to receiving the majority of information in text form and designers need to make this process easy and productive. The basic knowledge of typography can help to comprehend the peculiarities of font visual presentation and its influence on users perception.

 

The effective copy is a key to the powerful design. Its effectiveness depends not only on its content but also on how it is presented. Font size, width, color, and text structure — all of that matter. Designers can transfer certain mood or message by choosing appropriate fonts and the ways of their presentation. This way typography helps design to communicate with people. Visual performance and readability of copy in digital products have the great impact on user experience. If fonts are badly legible, people can face problems with navigation or even worse can’t use it at all. Today poor user experience in digital products is unforgiven since users can easily find the better alternative.

 

In addition, bad typography significantly affects the first impression because even when users don’t read copy, they scan it. In case fonts look inappropriate people may not want to learn about your offer or use your product.

 

home page design strategy

 

Essential typography elements

 

To create profound typography, you need to learn its anatomy and the processes typography building requires. Let’s see.

 

Font and Typeface

 

Nowadays, many designers use terms “font” and “typeface” as the synonyms but that’s not quite right. Let’s straighten it out. A typeface is a style of type design which includes a complete scope of characters in all sizes and weight. On the other hand, a font is a graphical representation of text character usually introduced in one particular typeface, size, and weight. In other words, a typeface is something like a family and fonts are parts of it. These two are the main objects which designers and typographers change and transform to create readable and aesthetic typography. More about typeface styles will be presented here soon for our readers.

 

Mean line and baseline

 

Typically, type characters are placed in a straight line creating a neat visual presentation. Main tools assisting designers in the process are mean line and baseline. The first marks the top and the other bottom of a character body. Such lines allow creating fonts even. Of course, the lines are invisible in interfaces after designers finish their work.

 

tubik typography baseline

 

Character measurement (size, weight, and height)

 

To separate different types of information and highlight the vital points, designers apply fonts in different weight and size. The type weight is a measurement of how thick type character is. The sizes are usually measured in inches, millimeters, or pixels. The height of the character is also called “x-height” because the body of every character in one size is based on the letter “x”. This approach makes them look even. It’s easy to segregate copy elements such as heading, sub-heading and body copy by varying these parameters.

 

tubik typography x_height

 

Ascender and Descender

 

The ascender is a part of a letter that goes above the mean line like in a letter “b” or “d”. The descender is opposite to ascender. It’s a segment that extends below the baseline like in “q” or “g”.

 

tubik typography ascender

 

White space

 

White space, also known as negative space, is the area between elements in a design composition. Readers aren’t usually aware of the great role of the space, but designers pay a lot of attention to it. In case the white space is not balanced, copy will be hard to read. That’s why negative space matters as much as any other typography element.

 

tubik_typography_whitespace

 

Alignment

 

Creating effective typography is not that easy and it includes many processes. For example, alignment is an action of placing and justifying text. During the stage, designers aim at transforming randomly placed pieces of text into one unified composition.

 

tubik_typography_alignment

 

Tracking

 

The process of tracking involves adjustment of space for a group of type characters which form a word and text block. A designer set appropriate spacing for all letters, making copy feel airy and pleasant to the eye. The effective tracking makes letters in a word easily readable.

 

tubik_typography_tracking

 

Kerning

 

Kerning is a bit similar to tracking still they aren’t the same. Tracking means is spacing between all the characters of font while kerning is the process of adjusting the space between two type characters. It is usually applied for individual cases when a designer decides to change the spacing between two specific letters to make it feel more natural.

 

tubik_typography_kerning

 

Leading

 

Leading is the spacing between the baselines of copy. The appropriate leading helps readers easily go from one text line to another and makes big pieces of text legible. In design, the standard leading is 120% the point size of the font still it can vary according to the typeface peculiarities.

 

tubik_typography_leading

 

Typographic hierarchy

 

As any other design element, typography should be structured. Typographic hierarchy is a system that organizes copy content in the best way for users’ perception first of all via modifications and the combination of typefaces and fonts. It is aimed at creating the contrast between the most meaningful and prominent copy elements which should be noticed first and ordinary text information. The contrast is created by regulating typography elements including typefaces, fonts, sizes, and colors as well as their alignment.

 

web design UI tubik studio

The Gourmet Website

 

Typographic hierarchy is presented with common types of copy content used in UI design. They are headlines, subheaders, body copy, call-to-action elements, captions, and others. These copy elements create distinct layers in design: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

 

The primary level of copy content includes the biggest type like in headlines. It strives at drawing user’s attention to the product. The secondary level consists of copy elements which can be easily scanned. Those are subheaders and captions which allow users quickly navigate through the content. And the tertiary level of typography includes body text and the other information. It is often presented with the small type still it should be readable enough.The typography layers assist users to learn copy content gradually step by step without effort and get oriented in the digital product.

 

web design UI concept tubik studio

The Big Landscape

 

Typography cannot be learned in one day. It requires constant studying and persistence. Follow Tubik blog updates and learn more about typography in design.

 

Recommended reading

 

Robert Bringhurst “The Elements of Typographic Style Paperback”

 

Erik Spiekermann “FontBook”

 

Simon Garfield “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts”

 

Tips on Applying Copy Content in User Interfaces

 

Every Design Needs Three Levels of Typographic Hierarchy


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance