What is typography?
Typography is how you arrange the letters and words. The letters have to be reusable – reassembled and reblicated. It’s also how they are composed to each other and how the letters and words are put or placed to the layout. It’s the font you choose to use and the spacing of the letters, words and lines. That’s why it’s also the length of the lines and the size of the font. It’s visual effect and readability of the text. All visually placed text involves typography. It’s not only art, it needs also certain standardization. It also has different levels. Holistic/ macro view takes for example layout, columns and the relationship of text and images into consideration. Micro level letter spacing, drop caps, font size etc. Typography is the family of fonts.
What the typography is NOT?
Typography is not handwriting, lettering or carving letters. It’s not sign writing, monoprinting or graffiti. But all these ways can inspire the designer to create a font. Typography is not a single time produced letters. And in the typography is not something you can learn in one night – you need a lot of practise and experimenting with it.
A case study creating a typeface that would work in various platforms – Airbnb.
Here’s an interesting case study how Airbnb through research, user testing and observation over the years realized that their typeface was hard to read, especially in small sizes. They wanted to have a good legibility in their UI (User interface).
They were looking for an option that would work in various platforms and mediums, not just when reading from screen. So they partnered with Dalton Maag, who’s a global font foundry. With him and Airbnb Marketing and Experience Design teams they started to develop a new typeface called Airbnb Cereal.
The keywords for their typeface were: human, friendly, welcoming, and creative professionalism. Some of the characters were inspired by their brand symbol and single stroke drawing which they thought was quite human and balanced with simpler features in other characters.
Airbnb typeface Cereal is best suited for screens in different sizes. To increase the legibility in screens the apertures are opened to create distinct letter forms in what would have been similar looking letters. Also the x-height is increased so that the lowercase letters are easier to read. The book weight is considered so that it’s not too heavy or too light.
Because Cereal has different weights it works also in larger print media.