good magazine

good magazine

GOOD is one of those magazines I usually pick up and spend hours with – not reading a single word, just admiring its design. And with The New Yorker, The Int’l Herald Tribune and Monocle reviewed previously on Typesites, it should be obvious that if there is one thing we like to do here, it’s looking to see if that tingling sensation in our designer gills, caused by a print publication, can be recreated by the online version…

GOOD Magazine was founded in 2006, and covers social issues, politics and enviromental issues. Its tagline is ‘for people who give a damn’. Remarkably, the site donates all subscription fees to charity (over $800.000 so far).

The design itself is very clean and minimalist, an impressive feat given the amount of content on the site. The site really seems to have brought a lot of the design feel from the print edition to the website, without feeling as though they were trying too hard.

The main typeface on the site is Arial. The serif details sprinkled across the site are Georgia, and mainly its italic family member. There are also some Trade Gothic and Vista Sans appearing in graphics on the site, as well as the logo, which is a hand drawn design by Arnaud Mercier.

One of the things I love most about the type selection is the way the Arial family is used to its full extent. By varying the size and style of one typeface, GOOD is able to keep a consistent and clean look, while still differentiating parts of the page.

Where the site really shines, though, is getting the typographic elements to play off of each other, in addition to the wonderful graphics and near-perfect element spacing.

From having some of the most tasteful drop shadows I’ve seen in a long time (and there are a lot of drop shadows out there) to another great example of balancing borders and wonderful iconography, the site gets a lot of details right.

A few of the problems I have with the site, stem from GOOD being too good.

Two of the magazine’s greatest assets are their awesome videos and amazing infographics. Unfortunately, their infographics tend to be a bit on the large size, and with no way to zoom out, you end up with a quite a bit of scrolling. While the videos are of great quality, they do tend to be a bit difficult to navigate between.

It’s a common misconception of typography that the job of a modern day typesetter starts and stops with choosing the correct typeface. That same misconception on the web is that typography starts and stops with the font stack. GOOD Magazine puts both of those misconceptions to shame.

Actually, the font stacks on the site are pretty poor. Arial falls back on Helvetica and Verdana, and Georgia falls back on Times New Roman or Times. Why anyone would choose Arial over Helvetica for headlines is beyond me. One could argue that Arial has some advantages at smaller sizes, but I won’t go into that discussion here.

While Georgia is a great and web-safe typeface, there are still far superior italics out there, and on the machines of millions. So when the typography on the site really works, I’d say it’s despite the font stack, not because of it.

But, truth is, the site works. The design is really thought through, and the details are just right. True, we can bicker on and on about the slanted ends of the Arial glyphs, and the boringness of not choosing something fresher than Georgia italics, but really – typography is about more than choosing a typeface.

  1. Bernat

    Yep, it’s a great magazine. I have to learn from them. But i really don’t like of georgia italic in small sizes.

    Thanks for the reveiw!

  2. Tim McElwee

    Ah, Arial vs. Helvetica font stacking. That one is definitely a compromise for many Windows users with Helvetica installed. Here’s an example. On my own PC at work, some of the lower case characters have odd x-heights, creating a choppy texture in addition to the poor horizontal spacing. I don’t know if it’s PC versions of Helvetica (which I doubt) or how Windows natively renders the characters. I wonder if ClearType is partially to blame.

  3. Matthew Anderson

    I’m new to typesites. Glad to find it.

    One addition I’d love to see in your reviews are the credits for the site at hand. In this case the visual design is by http://kissmeimpolish.com and the experience design by http://cargo.superfamous.com. I know that info is at times hard to track down, but it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.