Design Systems expert Nathan Curtis* tweeted this the other day:
With all those typefaces out there, how do my systems clients usually end up with Proxima Nova, Open Sans, or Source Sans Pro?— Nathan August Curtis (@nathanacurtis) March 15, 2017
This got me thinking - anecdotally, those three typefaces have been the ones primarily used on every project that I’ve worked on for maybe the last four or five years. This very blog is (currently) set in Source Sans Pro. It’s impossible to compile statistics on this (or is it?), but it his statement rings true in my experience.
Why do those three typefaces - Proxima Nova, Open Sans, our Source Sans Pro - seem to rule the web? What are there any pitfalls of using them? What do they have in common? What should we look for in alternatives? What are some example alternatives we can consider?…
There was some interesting discussion on Twitter about SVG sprites and their superiority to icon fonts. While I agree that SVGs are by and large superior, there are two crucial points that I feel icon fonts can present an advantage:
- Overall file size
- Internet Explorer support (but not the way you think)
I’ve always been focused on strong typography when it comes to design. As I’ve evolved into a front end developer, I still focus a lot on the typography of a project. As I’ve written about before, if the design is up to me, I even start with setting the paragraph.
However, what can you do to set yourself up for success when it comes to coding a design and it’s typography? I’ve done this - a lot - and I’ve come to some conclusions.…
The late, great graphic designer Massimo Vignelli famously used only five typefaces in his career -
Why would a designer place such a constraint on himself, especially considering the breadth of his career? Typefaces are a tool to be used in design, and he knew these tools well. He knew how extensive those typefaces were, what their strengths were, and where they were weak. He felt he could address the tone of any project with these five choices.
It’s not a bad idea, in this age of widely available digital fonts. You will certainly be moving along with a design a lot faster if you only have to pick from a handful of great fonts, rather than sifting through hundreds of mediocre fonts.…