75+ type driven sites
When we talk about the visual elements of a website, we are usually referring to images: photos, illustrations, icons, possibly the UI. What we tend to forget is that text is visual too. It is, after all, the visual representation of the spoken word. And text, just like images, can be beautiful or ugly, intriguing or dull, striking or bland, in appearance. The majority of sites out there use purely functional text. In other words, even though the typography might be passable, and the text readable, it is there to be read; any visual interest is picked up by images. However, there are some, rather brave, designers who use type as content and visual interest, and have kept images to bare minimum, or even done away with them altogether. I say brave because it is a difficult approach to get ‘right’, as it pushes users out of their comfort zone and it can produce a very bold, stark look. [pullquote]some, rather brave, designers use type as content and visual interest[/pullquote] This approach is not simply a case of ditching the use of any images and filling the space up with lots of text. That would be visually off putting, really pretty boring, and definitely not user-friendly. For this style to work, less is definitely more with each text element being very carefully placed on the screen. The type tends to be display, often oversized, although some sites do use body type in the same way, to good effect. In fact, it could be argued that there are two distinct sub genres: large, display type with a more stylish feel and small body type with a very basic, bare bones feel. Black on white or white on black is fairly standard, but in places color is used to add an extra dimension. In some of these sites, images appear on interaction, or a text animation is triggered to dramatic effect. With many of these examples, a screen shot cannot do them justice, they have to be experienced, and played with. The obvious examples of text only sites are type collections, and while some might say that they shouldn’t count here I feel they are worth including if they present their content well and in a visually engaging way. (Not all font sites do.) What stood out to me when putting together this collection is that the majority of sites embracing this approach tend to be for designers/design agencies, or others in creative fields (although there are some notable exceptions, like the NZ cleaners, or the Irish fish & chip shop). Perhaps this is because there is an urge to push the boundaries which usually has to be resisted when producing work for clients, whereas we don’t feel the need to play it safe when it’s about ourselves. The key here is creativity and confidence, it is a bold style that makes a very strong statement. There is no middle ground with this approach; when it misses it misses by a mile, but when it works it really works. Enjoy!