Making Nice Web Type

My name is Tim Brown. I'm designing Nice Web Type's tumblelog from scratch.

FYI, I'm now applying design changes to (and flowing live content into) Nice Web Type tumblelog. Still writing about the making here, but go there for visual status.

Scala Sans and Cronos

After much deliberation, I have made a decision about the typefaces I’ll use at Nice Web Type. Scala Sans has been a favorite of mine since Typography 101 in college, when two of my books (Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style and Ellen Lupton’s Design Writing Research) put it to beautiful use. It was the first font I ever licensed in print (for my résumé). I feel it suits my voice (or the voice I hope to convey), and I knew I could trust a Web FontFont to render well on the web. I licensed FF Scala Sans Web Pro Regular from FontShop and sent it to Typekit for hosting. I’ll use it for all body text, and think about licensing the italic, bold, and small caps variations, as needed, as I move forward with this redesign.

But Scala Sans was not my initial choice!

A few weeks ago, when I was preparing for Adobe’s launch on Typekit, I found Cronos Pro, a typeface I had studied thoroughly in the past but never used. At the time, I was seeking a sans-serif counterpart to Goudy Old Style, and found that Today Sans resonated a bit better than Cronos. (Heh, I actually just found a great Typophile thread from 2006 that I started because of that research.)

Since that time, I have been fond of Cronos. So when I saw it a few weeks ago and knew it would be on Typekit, I kept it in mind for Nice Web Type. I thought it would pair nicely with Lapture Display for headlines, which it does, but the result didn’t feel right to represent me. That’s when I gave Scala Sans a look. And as I flipped back and forth between the specimen of Cronos and one of Scala Sans (which I can see because I have licensed the font and brought it to Typekit, but which I cannot share because it is otherwise external to Typekit’s library), I noticed that the two faces have a very similar structure. Once I had set some paragraphs in Scala Sans, I found Adobe’s Cronos Pro to be an excellent companion for subheads. And for the site masthead, I’m going to use Adobe Cronos Pro Display. Light. The combination reminds me a bit of Michelangelo with Aldus, a pairing I used in Printed Books class at college.

Beginning to typeset

To get a feel for the relationships as I was choosing type, I made this test page with some sample Nice Web Type content (arranged as per my sketch from a few posts ago). I payed a lot of attention to type sizes, but almost no attention to spacing or color. This is roughly the look I’m going for with the new design, and I expect plenty of adjustments along the way:

Please note that, aside from my initial sketch, I did not make any decisions about layout, spacing, or size before seeing the actual fonts I’ll use. This is a critical part of the way I design websites. Measurements – from font-size, to line-height, to margins, to column widths, to even an overall layout width – are all based on the typefaces I’ve chosen and the content I’m typesetting. A strategy I look forward to sharing with you.

3 years ago

My name is Tim Brown. I'm designing Nice Web Type's tumblelog from scratch.