Typography for Squarespace — An Introduction


If those reading have been to design school you are going to read this article and think. CHECK, CHECK, YUP, ALSO YUP, and HELL YEAH! It’s the foundation of design that is not taught when self learning, and sometimes not emphasized enough for those doing undergrad design degrees. We mostly think of typography when we are working with print design, or traditionally we think of print and type to go hand in hand, publication design and typography - seems normal, branding design + typography also normal. What people forget is that it is just as important in web design as it is on any other branding/collateral.

When Print Design Came First

Today web design is our business cards, flyers, publication designs, marketing, postcards, ads and more. The digital world is becoming the “it” of design, and sometimes even taking president to print.

Back in the day I worked as a print designer at a fashion brand. We had two print graphic designers and one web-designer. Because of the immediacy of web, and the focus on print design in the past, the print designers would take the lead in the design for the seasons. Timeline was also a huge factor in the way it worked. For fashion you are working 3-6m ahead of time to develop seasonal graphics, Christmas photoshoots are done in July, then print catalog production began, all based on what the sales team thought we needed to focus on for the upcoming year.

We would develop the art direction for the season based on the design inspiration for the designers of the product. We would then turn to print design for our own catalog, for ads for window displays and for direct mailers for dept stores. It takes a lot of pre-planning and print time. Sometimes our print day checking the runs and adjusting CMYK at the printers were more than 12 hours long, and that’s just checking the first runs of each sheet to make sure the product looks correct - forget the skin color of the model, the product MUST look correct.

Once everything was finished for print, we would move to web and adjust everything for web graphics because there was no production time. The schedule was developed for the time it took to develop the print versions.

The Era of Digital Domination

As time changes however, it’s not about the print versions any longer, those are the secondary these days in terms of market reach. If you asked me if I look at catalogs anymore I say, umm I don’t think I receive any… and if I do, they don’t make it out of the mail room at my loft complex.

So where does that lead the digital and print world? Believe me I spent LOTS of time in graduate school writing about the future or print. There are books on the subject. The key is that we use the same principals that were developed over hundreds of years in order to develop web design and digital design today.

Graphic Designers Evolving to Web Designers

I was recently on the phone with Squarespace asking me about SSDG, how does it differ from other groups, they wanted to figure out WHY I thought it was a) necessary b) how they could help and understand the profile of those who wanted to join. Here’s my rendition (I apologize if I insult anyone in this, it’s not intentional). We’re graphic designers, we’re looking at the brand from the top down, from the brand perspective. Many of us design with our graphic designer caps on, typography manuals at our side. We fan through our pantone books and develop grid based design layouts that work for print, publication web and … social media! We come from the world of brand guidelines, layout design, design proposals and the printing world, and yet the ground beneath us has shifted.

While we wear this hat, we have to figure out how to make what we learned in print for our design core work for some brands that are exclusively digital. We’re the designers that provide our clients with watercolor logos if they want it, but have a one-color vector on the side always included because we have those rules engrained in our brain. Enough whiplash from design school (mine started in architecture studio … nightmares!) has left us to be rule followers most of the time, and rule breakers to create emphasis.

Why this topic?

SO what’s the partial rant- partial speech blog post about? It’s to create a platform in which we can talk about typography in web, and typography in SS design. And with that we start off our typography in SS design series!

We will discuss all the basics of type, but through the lens of SS. By developing your typography within your sites, you will stand out from the crowd. Those who don’t know design will know that you you hit it out of the park, even if they don’t know why. Get excited folks.