In watching YouTube video “On Web Typography” by Mighty design studio founder Jason Santa Maria, I realized how important visual communication is in our daily lives, and specifically, how type makes a difference whether in a positive or negative way. In this video, Jason touches on several elements that remind all of us why type matters including context and typeface, readability and perception, design considerations and type choice approaches.

Context is everything according to Jason. If Comic Sans has been used, the designer is at fault, not the font. Jason suggests that one should look at the type and words, not just the letters and discover intrinsic functions that type can play. For example, a beautiful display font can be Bodoni, yet a display font that can also act as a text face like Meta or Proxima is almost better to have what Jason calls “a workhorse font”.

Readability and perception play an integral role in type. Reading involves such elements as type size, line length, negative space and contrast. Perception allows us to visually decode what we are reading.

There are some considerations for web design that involve principles and guidelines, but according to Jason, there are no rules. His suggestion is to use one typeface and to understand its nuances such as weight in order to develop context hierarchy and emphasis.

Finally, choosing type should start with asking yourself several questions including how will the type be used and under what conditions. Such examples are magazine versus web dimensions, font styles and features and multi-language fonts must be considered.

In closing, Jason recommends several ways to achieve ideal web typography. First, discover and develop a selection of fonts, understand their strengths and weaknesses and use them in all forms to really know them. Second, research font history and make it applicable to context. Third, create a list of words and associate fonts with those words to use as a reference sheet for future design work. And last, consider alternative fonts by studying attributes of fonts you like such as stroke width and geometric appearance. As Jason states in this video, no matter the imagery and content, “if type is bad, design fails.”

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