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Typography and Its Changing Purpose for Web and Mobile

Your typography choice is what gives web and mobile visitors their first impression of you. 

Of course, your website and mobile presence are summed up by your choice of colour, imagery, composition and words.

But it's your typography that ultimately impresses - or doesn't impress - your visitors.

In 2017, Twitter changed its font from familiar Helvetica Neue to Segoe, and was followed by the BBC who have adopted their own font family, Reith.

Reith has replaced the commonly recognised font families of Gill Sans, Arial and, again, Helvetica Neue. 

Toady, there are more than 25,000 font families, made up of over 90,000 typefaces. In fact, 49% of these are designed for the web. 

A Brief History of Typography

1452: The first movable type created

1500s: Early in this century, Garamond was designed

1816: First Sans Serif type created

1820: First display type produced

1932: Times New Roman is designed

1952: The first time type was designed with sftware

1953: First handdrawn type closely follows

1957: Helvetica is born

1966: First joining script produced

1984: First system font designed

Today: Typography production has increased 30% in the last two years.

(List Source: Populated using the Bold & Justified infographic by CreativeMarket.com)

Please Don't Use... Comic Sans

Comic Sans is bashed a lot in the design world. However, a blog on typography cannot avoid its once widespread popularity in the 90s and early 00s. 

The font, designed in 1994, is a casual script typeface modeled on the font style used in American comic books.

It became criticised by designers when it was seemingly used for everything. It is particularly mocked for being used on serious documents and when talking about formal subjects.

Can you believe that hte CERN researcers who finally discovered the Higgs Boson used Comic Sans to announce their discovery?!

Read more about the Comic Sans MS styled announcement via The Week.

Moving Away From Helvetica

Helvetica is universally popular for it's simplicity and clear, readable style.

Put simply - it's unoffensive in its neutral design.

Being one of the world's most used typefaces could lead you to think it risks the same demise as Comic Sans MS - but we would never hate on it so badly.

Aside from its neutrality, Helvetica is a beautifully designed font which can be found on the New York Subway system and across airports, as well as millions of other brands and websites, including versions of the following logos:

  • American Airlines
  • Jeep
  • Toyota
  • BMW
  • Target
  • Microsoft
  • British Gas
  • 3M
  • Evian
  • Skype
  • BASF
  • Motorola

(List Source: Compiled using Web Designer Depot)

It is perhaps this overuse and it's neutrality that is turning some organisations, including Twitter and the BBC away from the font.

BBC's Chief Design Officer, Colin Burns, said at the time: "The existing fonts that the BBC uses were developed last century and work well in print - but they're not always clear enough when they appear in small, digital, spaces, and we're all reading and watching far more on screens and mobiles these days."

(Source: BBC News)

If you have questions about your brand, website or how your brand conveys on small screens, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Find out more like this via Web Design.

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