I love typography was born, as its creator John Boardley puts it, on the 8th of August, 2007 with the clear goal of bringing typography to the masses. And now, with over 16,000 subscribers and counting, it has undoubtedly succeeded in doing just that.
The first thing that strikes you upon entering the site is the prominent masthead, which at the time of writing is set in Le Monde Livre from the Porchez Typofonderie; a lovely typeface designed especially for legibility at large point sizes. The masthead also sets up the primary color tones for the site: a simple pallete of black, white, and red. And as we’ll see later, there’s a little more to this masthead than meets the eye.
From here on the site relies heavily on the ever popular Georgia; including links, body text, and post titles. And to balance things out, Lucida Grande is used for the bylines, subheadings, and inline blockquotes. The two typefaces mix well, and provide a pleasant balance between the serif, and sans.
what is love?
There are a lot of intriguing details that make iLT not only an excellent read, but also a joy to look at.
I particularly like the execution of post titles. The bold, center-aligned title stands out, while the date and comment count sit above; parts of which use contrasting red type that really catch your attention. The byline also sets up a nice contrast with wide letter spacing, and a soft gray color. Finally, a simple leaf ornament at the end ties it all together.
Another great feature of iLT is the changing masthead. Every post on the website has a unique image, usually set in a typeface featured in the article, or one appropriate to the topic. Some stick to the color scheme, while others take a few understandable liberties. To make things a little more fun, there are often prizes to the first reader who can correctly identify the font used.
Shifting our gaze to the right, we’ll see that iLT has even more to offer for those seeking typographical enlightenment. The sidebar contains the usual blog-related links, but it’s the secondary sidebar that will likely catch your attention, with several fonts featured for each month, it takes up more vertical space than you can shake a ruler at. Though it’s certainly not space wasted.
You might also notice the subtle use of negative space in the sidebar’s right-hand corner, where you can make out the shape of the standard feed icon, along with the feed information and subscription options.
There’s also another feature, which I imagine is often missed, and that is the menu accessible from the navigation bar at the top, labeled Typography tags & search. Once clicked, it reveals a hidden menu just below the masthead. And though it duplicates some of the content from the sidebar, I find the multi-column format is much more readable, and as such deserves a mention.
A site devoted to typography and its usage sets high expectations for design. And iLT rises bravely to this challenge. However, further exploration reveals some parts of iLT that could use just a bit more love.
Firstly, the topmost navigation bar—despite the attractive two-tone color—feels a little confusing. The items are wordy, and it’s hard to tell exactly what they do in some cases. Perhaps they could be simplified and consolidated into a smaller menu that would distract you less from the masthead below. Or even removed altogether and placed in a more prominent place in the sidebar.
Another thing I noticed was that some parts of the site were set, as I’ve mentioned, in Lucida Grande. The problem was, I didn’t have that font installed—being a PC user, and therefore in most cases I saw the alternative Tahoma, and in the case of blockquotes, the default Times New Roman since no alternative was defined (see image below). Not a deal-breaker, but a better CSS alternative would be something like Lucida Sans Unicode; a very similar font available on most Windows PCs.
The last thing that irks me is the lack of contrast in the fonts for the month sidebar. Yes, white on black is about as high contrast as you can get, but I’m referring to the name of the month. Yes, it is there. And there is more whitespace above it than the other fonts, but since it’s white like the rest, it’s hard to spot at a glance. Again, however, this is easily remedied; either by adding a small horizontal rule between months, or better yet, changing the color of the month name to a more subtle gray.
Overall, iLT is a success; both visually, and content-wise. As it says in the footer. “Typography exists to honor content.” (quoted from The Elements of Typographic Style). And this is clearly a motto that iLT takes to heart.
Indeed, it goes without saying; I love typography — don’t you?Want more? Check out the archives for previous reviews, and don’t forget to subscribe for future reviews, posted weekly.