Design tips for programmers: before and after

Design Tips for Programmers

The line between back-end and front-end programming is not always distinct. Many times programmers have to make design decisions on the fly. This guide is intended to help avoid the worst transgressions. As with all rules, there are exceptions—but leave those up to the professional designers.


Spotlight on Paula Scher

Do you recognize this album cover? In Make It Bigger, Paula Scher describes the design process that she oversaw as art director at CBS Records. She thought the idea of a guitar-shaped spaceship was “idiotic.” After a lot of back and forth with the band, the product manager, and the illustrator, the hit album of 1976 was released with this cover.

Scher’s book tells the story of her career as one of the most well-known designers of our time. She candidly describes how politics, personalities, whims, and luck affect the design that is ultimately produced.READ MORE

How Do You Choose a Restaurant?

I’m good at picking restaurants. Long before Yelp I used my own method of choosing a restaurant based on its typography. My husband and I don’t like chains, even though you can be assured of consistency. In our travels, we’d rather throw the dice on a one-of-a-kind restaurant. When I find good typography on the outside, I always find good food on the inside. I’m sure that’s because the same attention to detail permeates the entire business.READ MORE

Web Fonts

When HTML first hit the scene in the early 1990s, web developers had no control over the fonts used on their pages. The web browser was entirely responsible for selecting fonts. Netscape introduced the <font> tag in 1995, giving developers the opportunity to choose their own fonts for the first time; the tag was incorporated in the next official HTML standardization. But even with a <font> tag, only fonts already present on the user’s computer could be displayed. Otherwise, the browser would display a preselected “fallback” font instead. This led to the designation of “web-safe” fonts: the fonts most likely to be present on most computers. Designers could rely on them to provide a somewhat predictable experience for every visitor.READ MORE

Hoefler and Frere-Jones

You may not have heard of them, but you have seen their work everywhere.

For over 25 years Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones have designed typefaces for the world’s most iconic brands, publications, and even political candidates. During their partnership (which has ceased as of January 2014), the two produced some of the most ubiquitous typefaces of our time.READ MORE

Rules of Typography

Follow these rules if you want your publication to look professional, be easy to read, and reflect well on you. When in doubt, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

Insert one space after all punctuation. If you learned to type on a typewriter, you were taught to insert two spaces after each period, semicolon, question mark, etc. Since typewriters are monospaced (meaning each letter is the same width), that extra space improved readability. Professional fonts with proportional letter widths need only a single space.READ MORE

Do You Know What a Font Is?

typeface: an artistic design for letterforms

A typeface represents a consistent visual appearance for letterforms. A typeface might be produced as a single font, or a family of various weights and styles. The Garamond Premier Pro typeface is depicted above.READ MORE

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