Thursday, July 25, 2013

H&F-J's Jonathan Hoefler Talks About Digital Typography

H&F-J's Screen smart font Archer aims to replace Courier
The last 20 years has seen a revolution in where and how people read.  The vast majority of text in your life is now displayed on a computer screen, rather than in print.  But lagging behind that curve has been the field of typography itself, and the fonts that worked for signs, books and magazines have shown to be inadequate for the digital age we live in.  So Hoefler and Frere-Jones has become the go to company in redesigning the world of online typography, and its founder, Jonathan Hoefler, has a few choice words about the letters we will see on our screens in the future.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to article:
Excerpt; "GigaOM: Aside from the multiple-screen functionality, what are websites looking for with typography?

Hoefler: Websites and their readers are looking for typography that can be as sophisticated as content. It’s interesting to think about something like Wikipedia, which is superior to a printed reference book in almost every meaningful way, despite having been limited to such a rudimentary typographic palette all these years.
Even dictionaries from the 19th century used more complex typographic palettes, with small capitals and swashes and slab serifs and gothics used to articulate information in different ways. We’re really excited to see websites start using the sort of advanced typographic vocabulary that readers deserve: It’s going to make reading online a lot more rewarding.

Are the aesthetic expectations for online fonts different than print?
Aesthetics are usually a function of custom, so it’s fair to say that what online readers expect is a byproduct of what they’re used to. A lot of these expectations are good ones, and still offer useful benchmarks for success when choosing a webfont: A lot of fonts on the web fumble over seemingly obvious expectations like 'a bold should be demonstrably bold,' or 'a text font should be legible at text sizes.'
There are also expectations that H&FJ is looking to change, most of which have to do with two decades of print fonts masquerading as webfonts. If you’re able to suffer Helvetica or Times at 12 pixels, with their tight spacing and clogged forms, you’re going to be in for a real treat with a ScreenSmart typeface that’s specifically designed to be experienced at this scale.

What are your pet peeves with online typography?
 Small thinking. I hate the notion that a 21st-century designer would sit down to create a family of webfonts, and feel hidebound by the expectation that it should come in 'regular, italic, bold, and bold italic.' Or the notion that CSS properties, which exist to categorize fonts that have come before, should be considered a recipe for fonts that will come in the future. Conventions like 'a family can only exist in nine widths' or 'only two weights may be heavier than bold' are ridiculously arbitrary rules, and we’ve got them squarely in our crosshairs."

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