Christoph Hochstrasser

On Web Typography

Recently I read “On Web Typography” by Jason Santa Maria. I’m now into finishing it a second time. Jason is one of my greatest idols of the web design community. His design for “A List Apart” inspired me for many years.

On Web Typography Cover

“On Web Typography” changed the way I work with type

I don’t want to write a review. I want to write about how “On Web Typography” changed the way I work with type.

Before reading this book, my process for picking a typeface looked like this: I would go through the list of all my fonts, test each of them with some text and then make a decision (and later on I would often change my mind, multiple times). You might say that this doesn’t sound like fun (and it wasn’t).

“On Web Typography” covers the usual typographic basics and the terminology that matter. This is done in a very concise and easily understandable way.

But I got the most out of chapter three, “Evaluating Typefaces”. It provides a systematic approach to finding the right typeface for the job.

Type as the color of communication

My process totally changed. First I look at the attributes I’d like to communicate, like “robust”, “modern” or “open”. This can be found in the client’s existing branding, or is matched to the message. This is one side of it.

The other side of it, is the evaluation of the typefaces. “On Web Typography” teaches you how to deconstruct a typeface to get attributes too, like “open”, “modern” or “robust”.

You might already see towards where this is leading.

Now that we’ve extracted the message’s attributes we can match them against the attributes of typefaces. For “modern”, but “robust”, Helvetica or Proxima Nova would be a good fit.

Verdict: Buy

I told you I don’t want to write a review, but here I am writing a verdict.

I can only recommend buying this book. It covers both the basics of typography and the details of designing with type in mind. I think it’s a great refresher for seasoned designers, but also a great guide for designers wanting to incorporate better typography in their designs.

It certainly helped getting me more excited about designing with type and supplied the foundation for better typographic designs.