Archive: February, 2013

Flat pixels: the battle between flat design and skeuomorphism

Sacha Grief is already a designer I’ve kept my eye on for a while – prolific on Twitter, creator of the amazing Sidebar – but he’s outdone himself with this very long post on the future of web and app design. Loved this line:

When you have a high-definition display and screen-optimized fonts, you quickly realize you don’t need much else to create beautiful work.

Shooting your way around the 180 degree rule

I’m not a filmmaker, nor do I have any intention of starting down that path, but I found these series of videos from pretty fascinating. The first video breaks down the 180 degree rule, a key guideline with two character film scenes. The second looks at various distances to shoot characters, introducing some terminology and motivations behind each distance.

Don’t just choose a grid. Design it!

Designer Nathan Ford’s responsive grid workflow can be boiled down to this quote:

You should design a grid based on your content’s constraints, not design your content based on a grid’s constraints.

It’s rather brilliant when you think about it. It’s also one of the most succinct descriptions of a shift in methodology I’ve been after for a while now, having worked for over a year professionally on responsive web designs. I generally lean heavily on the Skeleton grid system, but something about landing on break points for existing iOS hardware just feels wrong. I’ve got to research Gridset more.

31 reasons why Roger Deakins should win the best cinematography Oscar for ‘Skyfall’

Great series of images from Bond’s latest spawned from this Reddit thread. I’m rooting for Deakins, the look of that film honestly is at least half the reason I’d place it in my top five Bond films of all time.

ScreenFonts: Zero Dark Thirty, The Impossible, On The Road, Django Unchained

The FontFeed‘s Yves Peters looks at typographic choices made on poster art for recent Hollywood releases. Interesting to see the ubiquitous Helvetica Neue put to both great (Zero Dark Thirty) and not so great (Django Unchained) use.

Picking web fonts

As designer Oliver Reichenstein wrote years ago, 95% of web information is text. Text has to look good, and the right font face is a big part of that. But given the virtually infinite set of web fonts to pick from, where do we start? Here’s a few recommendations from what I’ve learned.

Decide on a font face for dominant content first

I split web typography into three categories: body, headline and accent text (i.e. everything that doesn’t fit neatly into a standard headline plus paragraph flow.) In the early stage of web design one category tends to dominate overall textual content; in almost all cases it’s the body text. Decide the right font face for this category first. This decision makes the rest of your font selections easier; by then you’ve already settled on a font on a your users will interact with the most.

The body font trumps readability above all else

Great web text is aesthetically pleasing and matches the creative style of the site or application behind it. None of that matters if the body font face, the workhorse of web text, is hard to read. Check out body text samples on multiple browsers, multiple devices. How is the font hinting? Be sure to check out samples on IE8 and IE9, where poorly hinted fonts often fall apart. Generally when I’m stuck between two body font faces I’ll go with the more readable option.

Single font face web designs are underrated

There’s a reason many very well designed sites and apps stick with one font; multiple font faces need to contrast against each other to play well. Also every font you add has to match the site’s mood or style. That can generate a lot more research and testing. When in doubt, or if design time is limited, stick with a single font face and play with font weights for proper contrast.

There is no one “proper” base font size

I still see web guides recommending a single font size as a base for body text like 12px or 14px. Times have changed: there’s a huge range (desktop, tablet, phone) in web connected devices, some of which appreciate a slightly bumped up font size. Custom font faces often look best one or two pixels bigger or smaller than you might first expect. Experiment. When debating between several sizes, pick one that fits roughly 45 to 75 characters per line (including spaces) to maximize readability.

Could Netflix’s programming strategy kill the golden age of TV?

The A.V. Club‘s Todd VanDerWerff:

But I’ll still miss the idea of everybody watching everything together. With every new freedom comes a kind of loss, and sometimes, those can’t be quantified. We’ve been consuming content in serialized fashion for centuries now—people made weekly visits to theaters long before the novel was even a glint in Cervantes’ eye—and that habit will likely die hard. And maybe I’m being a stick-in-the-mud here, tied to a method of TV watching that was already in its death throes when I was a child. But when I can watch a great episode of TV with my watercooler—real or virtual—around me, that increases the value of it to me, increases the sense that I’m a part of something.

Jeffery Harrell on ‘Primer’

This is a long, long read, but it’s the smartest breakdown I’ve read of what’s really going on in Shane Carruth’s cult time travel film. Makes the wait for Upstream Color a lot harder.

Jason Santa Maria – ‘On Web Typography’

I really enjoyed watching Jason’s talk. He starts out illustrating how the right font face matters. Pay special attention to last twenty or so minutes where he runs through a few quick tips on font selection (e.g. when in doubt between two font sizes, bigger is better.)

Analysis of ‘Blade Runner’

If you’ve got twelve minutes and dig science fiction films, watch this Vimeo video essay by Steven Benedict. It jumps around in its coverage, but on a surface level it illustrates why Blade Runner still holds up as one of my favorite films.