lecture goals To help you better communicate the purpose of your web pages by visually emphasizing the most important features and relationships between informational units To suggest some design approaches that will simplify maintaining and extending your site To appreciate some of the more subtle but important qualities of design and typography Presentation Matters
lecture topics layout grids web typography attentional units
page layout: attentional units Pages can be constructed from informational units such as large blocks of text, navigation elements, images, and even hyperlinks Page layout involves taking stock of what functional units or content areas should be present, determining the relative importance of these areas, and designing these areas to grab attention to a greater or lesser degree. The end result of this process should produce a visual hierarchy.
page layout: visual hierarchy Visual hierarchies communicate what information is most important by making some informational units stand out more than others. Visual hierarchies also provide a means of leading a viewer through the content. strong visual hierarchy weak visual hierarchy
attentional units: factors There are a few interrelated factors that determine how much attention a unit draws to itself. Its all about contrast. location, location, location size color motion
attentional units: location, location, location Position of graphic elements should reflect their relative importance Most people read from top to bottom, many from right to left as well. Top left corner is prime real estate and is often used for site identification. Think of the “top of the fold” principle.
attentional units: color & value Differences in color are also a form of contrast. A limited palette can be used to be used to define separate sections of a page. Avoid spotty, inconsistent use of color. Effective use of color and value to create separate, but integrated units of information
attentional units: size To increase the inherent attentional weight of any unit increase its size. Given the limited real estate on the web, primary content should be allotted the most area.
attentional units: motion When all is calm, things in motion jump out. Motion can distract or clarify. Motion can provide feedback to users OR it can distract them.
contrast: points to ponder If everything stands out nothing stands out Contrast means contrast (font face, color, size, etc.) Stay focused on relevant message(s) Images tend to stand out What’s important here? To which company does this site belong?
effective visual hierarchy –Presents visual structure or viewing sequence that helps the viewer determine what’s on the page, what the most important elements are, and how these elements are related poor visual hierarchy –Leaves the viewer not really knowing what they are looking at or what they should focus their attention on first visual hierarchy: evaluating
images/bold headings emerge read content – starting with feature analysis abstract shapes Visual hierarchy is established through placement and prioritization of attentional units and guides the process of looking visual hierarchy: the process of looking
visual hierarchy: guiding questions What path do you wish your audience to travel when initially scanning your pages? What can you do to differentiate between different functional or informational units? What should viewers notice first, second and third? What is least important? What is most important?
visual hierarchy: examples How is visual hierarchy communicated?
visual hierarchy: examples How is visual hierarchy communicated?
layout grids Page layout grids serve many important purposes –They help to unify disparate sets of information –They allow for consistency while providing for flexible, variable designs –The consistency they provide helps visitors understand and navigate your site –They help you maintain the site by providing a grid to plug new content into
layout: proportions You can create grids based upon your own set of proportions Popular choice - golden mean or Fibonacci series where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers [1:1.61803] You can also use a scale to align elements.
white space : your friend You can frame page units with white space or negative space to set them apart from neighboring units Using white space creates clear units without the need for horizontal rules, borders, or other distracting elements
web constraints for layout Average computer monitor will not display a traditional page (8 1/2 x 11) Use top 4-5 inches for critical information - 14-15” monitor: safe browser area is 600 x 300 pixels Vertical dimension is often variable Columns of text –Fine for shorter web pages –For longer pages would require reader to scroll up and down Printing –Maximum size graphic that can be printed on standard size paper is 535 ppi wide –Test to see if clipping occurs
why typography ? “Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness.” Robert Bringhurst “The New Typography is distinguished from the old by the fact that its first objective is to develop its visible form out of the functions of the text…. Every part of a text relates to every other part by a definite, logical relationship of emphasis and value, predetermined by content. It is up to the typographer to express this relationship clearly and visibly, through type sizes and weight, arrangements of lines, use of color, photography, etc.” Jan Tschichold
typography : functional From a functional perspective type: is the primary vehicle through which we communicate verbal information online and in print can facilitate or obstruct recognition and interpretive tasks involved in reading determines how quickly or easily we can parse and process constituent shapes and combinations of shapes that comprise letters and words communicates and reveals underlying organizational structure of content
Type also has an affective dimension. Type can embody and thereby communicate the spirit of a work. Typefaces color textual interpretation at subtle levels. Typefaces carry unique sets of emotional or anthropomorphic modifiers (warm, welcoming, cold, authoritative, rational, lyrical, static, vibrant) typography : affective
designing for legibility Resolution Printed text: 300 dpi (low-end laser printer) to 2400 dpi (high-end typesetter) Computer monitor: 72 - 120 ppi Low resolution of computers requires selection of computer friendly fonts and honoring of font size limits
legibility: selecting fonts When selecting a font for online use consider weight, aperture, counter, serifs, and origin.
Typeface –A specific design (look) for a set of characters Family –A set of typefaces based on a face, but with variations (bold, condensed, italic, small caps, etc.) Faces in a family usually carry the name of the base face. Font –An applied typeface. A font is a combination of a typeface and other qualities such as size, weights, spacing, etc. typography: terminology
terminology: letter characteristics Serif The stroke at the beginning and end of a main stroke of the letter. In italics the strokes are transitive in that one stroke leads into another. Ex. Times Sans Serif Text without serifs (feet). Ex. Univers Slab Serif An abrupt or adnate serif. Ex. Officina
terminology: type characteristics Justify Adjusting a line of text so that it becomes flush right or left Leading Space between lines. Spacers of lead were inserted between rows of type on the printing press to create “leading’. Tracking Additional, consistent spacing between all letters (letterspacing). Best used for headings and titles, not lowercase text.
terminology: type text blocks Measure The length of a line or the width of a column Color Refers to overall value, lightness or darkness, of a page or screen of text. It is impacted by the spacing between words, letters and lines as well as the frequency of capital letters, font weight and contrast. Contrast The difference or contrast between the thickest and thinnest strokes of a letter
typography & visual hierarchy Present organizing structure through font faces, headings, subheadings, blocks of text Follow rules of alignment, contrast, repetition (consistency) and proximity Contrast - combine typefaces and sizes such as serif and smaller sans serif to set apart areas of information or repeat and amplify a specific passage Vary font weights and use small caps, a font screen or true color to reflect the relative importance and/or sequence of information Spiekermann, E. & E. M. Ginger. Stop Stealing Sheet and Learn How Type Works
typography: additional information Additional information
units of measure Em A horizontal measure, it is equal to the type size. Thus, in 12 pt type one em would be equal to 12 points. En Half an em Pica 12 points. In postscript one pica is equal to 1/6 of an inch. Point 1/12 of a pica. There are 72 points per inch in print. Point sizes are no measure of actual visual size. Both of these letters are 30 pt. X- height is a better predictor.
legibility: serifs & caps We read by recognizing shapes. Words set in all caps all look the same i.e., rectangular, making them harder to read in blocks of text. Headings with initial caps can also disrupt reading Serif fonts are good for lengthy runs of text, as the feet characters form base line that guides the reader
legibility: aliased & anti-aliased Aliased Smaller than 10 point text Anti-aliased 10 point or larger text Produces smooth letter shapes Photoshop or Fireworks can produce either aliased or anti-aliased text.
type: font embedding Text rendered through a browser with HTML is limited by the fonts resident on the user’s computer MS Internet Explorer supports font embedding technology, allowing designers to embed fonts within their web pages. Netscape provides this functionality through Dynamic Fonts However, users can override designer’s choices through the browsers’ preferences.
session seven: references Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style. Dowding, Geoffrey. Finer Points in the Spacing & Arrangement of Type. Horton, Sarah and Patrick Lynch. The Web Style Guide: Basic Design Principles for Creating Web Sites. Spiekermann, Erik and E.M. Ginger. Stop Stealing Sheep and Learn How Type Works. Tschichold, Jan. The New Typography: A Handbook for Modern Designers.