It’s been a while…

Yeah, so I think I did quite a classic thing of getting a job, being busy and stopping writing things. But I have been thinking about it more and more, so here goes again.

Over the last couple of years I have been working with creative directors/art directors/print designers/digital designers on their hybrid publishing apps. Explaining the process, requirements and restrictions and helping them realise their publication in a digital format.

The HTML content we create is fully responsive, and generally fully templated to allow integration with a CMS. As you can imagine, this creates a whole load of issues, when working with print designers that are used to a fixed format – no orientation change, no text resize, no million Android devices. It’s a steep learning curve.

I heard an art director ask a great question recently (not to me, thankfully);

“Where is the fun in web typography?”

Typography is such a massive part of editorial design that I think it’s almost the hardest thing to come to terms with, in digital. Yes we have webfonts now, and can control the line-height and letter-spacing etc, but what we can do looks like nothing when compared with InDesign. Which is what print designers are used to.

When working on the digital version of UK Grazia, we used a Google Doc for them to ask questions/make feature requests/raise bugs about the CMS. Thinking this was the easier option than introducing and supporting their team on our formal PM tool, it actually ended up with them requesting “the rich text edit functionality of Google Docs” in their CMS editor. It came from a desire to recreate what they had done in InDesign, but for the digital version. Which is kind of fair enough really, just not completely possible yet.

So back to the question about typographic fun. I reckon it is possible to be playful with type on the web, but in my world it needs to be responsive and template-able, which is where the difficulty comes in. But I like a challenge. I’m taking a primarily print based Typography course at Central St Martins at the moment, which I will be using as a starting point for experimenting with web type. I’ll take the excersizes we do in the class, and see how a digital version would work.

I’m not exactly sure what the classes will entail, or what the focus of each digital version will be, but it’ll be fun. And I guess the overarching aim is to find the fun in web typography.

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