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Dandy Cast 026: Standard isn’t boring!

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on May 26, 2020.

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Show notes

Am I thinking about removing some personality from my website? Yeah, but it’s not because I want to have the world’s most boring site. Who in the world would want something like that? We live in the web 2.0 era, for cryin’ out loud. We don’t need to subject our audiences to HTML only sites. Fancy things are still nice.

I do, however, want to have a speedy site. Like, the speediest site around. The best way to do that is to remove the things that are taking up loads of space. In my case, I’ll be removing the custom font I had been using and replacing it with a system font. Standard? Yes. Boring? Hell no! Speedy? You bet your butt.

There’s also a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, The Top 3 Color Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them).

Employing a sensible and appealing palette of colors in your design work is a must. However, it’s all too easy to slip up and make devastating mistakes. This week, I’m talking about the top three mistakes that people make when working with color. Knowing about these pitfalls is the easiest way to avoid falling into them. Read this post today.

We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.

Links to stuff that was mentioned:

What's the Difference Between a Font and a Typeface? - Mental Floss

Abstract: The Art of Design - Netflix

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo - Netflix

Clean Your Desk to Feel Better - Dandy Cat Design

Dandy Cat Design

Nunito - Google Fonts

Helvetica - Wikipedia

San Francisco typeface - Wikipedia

Ghost

Segoe UI - Wikipedia

The Top 3 Color Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them) - Dandy Cat Design

Original Shame | Roderick on the Line - Merlin Mann

Jojo Rabbit - IMDb

Sylvan Esso | Sylvan Esso - YouTube

A Wanted Man | Lee Child - Goodreads


The full text

The Dandy Newsletter — 05/26/20

In my first quarter of film school, I took an introductory typography class. This was for an undergraduate degree, so while I was there to learn about filmmaking, there were still some vaguely related classes that I had to take to graduate. The class covered the basics of typography, including the history of typefaces, the characteristics of letters, and what makes a typeface both legible and nice to see. The class was about as good an introduction to a subject as you can get and I created pieces that I still have laying around somewhere.

It would have been nice if past Sean had appreciated the class more than he did because present Sean really enjoys learning about and experimenting with typefaces. Past Sean was never good at predicting the future.

When it comes to typefaces... fonts... whatever you want to call them (although, there is a distinction between the two), I like to refer to myself as a lover and not an expert. I couldn’t rattle off the definitions of x-heights, ascenders and descenders, or hairlines without giving those words some thought. However, I know what I like and what I don’t like, and so far, that’s been good enough for me.

That being said, I did just watch the Jonathan Hoefler episode of the Netflix show, Abstract: The Art of Design, and now I’d like to learn a whole lot more about typography. It was a great episode about a fascinating man who really knows his stuff and has a great on-camera personality.

I also have a clear and devoted interest in minimalism, both as an aesthetic and, more importantly, a mindset. A clean and ordered space is not just pleasing for me to look at, it also brings me a sense of calm. There’s not going to be a Netflix show made about my interest anytime soon, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop evangelizing the benefits of minimalism.

These two interests, typography and minimalism, bleeds into the current appearance of Dandy Cat Design and my future musings about the look of my work. Currently, I’m using a font called Nunito in my website and all of my design. I really like the font because of its playfulness and how clean it appears to my eye. It’s a great accompaniment to the personality of my business.

However, I also adore typefaces like Helvetica and San Francisco. They’re eminently readable and have been used for countless applications for many years. Are they the flashiest typefaces out there? No, of course not. In many ways, they’re not supposed to be. In fact, the San Francisco typeface, by definition, is designed not to be flashy. It is the current system typeface for all of Apple’s devices, therefore it needs to be legible for as many Apple device owners as possible. There’s no room for typeface flashiness when billions of dollars are in the mix.

System fonts have been on my mind for a while because of their ubiquity and speed. I’ve been talking about my goal of creating the speediest website since I first moved everything over to Ghost. It’s my goal to have a site that aces all the page speed tests out there. A website needs to be lightweight to accomplish that feat, and unfortunately custom fonts do not help to speed up a website.

When you use a custom typeface, a browser needs to load the files associated with the fonts that are being used throughout your website. If you’re only using a couple fonts from a single typeface, then that hit may be minimal, but start using more than that and suddenly a browser is going to have to load additional megabytes when someone goes to your website. Internet speeds have improved over the years, but not in all parts of the world, so those megabytes could take mega time to load. If you’ve also got images on there, then oof.

Because of this, my website project roadmap now includes the removal of custom typefaces and the use of system ones. Will the personality of my site take a hit? Most likely, but what good is personality if visitors navigate away from my site out of load speed frustration before they ever see my typeface? I can still use custom fonts all I want in my images, but for the text that’s rendered on my website it’ll be something far more standard.

It’s a relatively easy thing to accomplish, too. Adding this little bit of code should do the trick (although, be aware that this list can change as typeface choices are updated):

body {
	font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, "Segoe UI", "Roboto", "Oxygen", "Ubuntu", "Cantarell", "Fira Sans", "Droid Sans", "Helvetica Neue", sans-serif;
}

This means, for the body selector, the browser should try to render text in whichever system typeface it’s capable of rendering first. If you’re using a current Mac or iOS device, the browser will render in -apple-system, or San Francisco as of this writing. If you’re using a Windows device, it’ll be Segoe UI. If all of them fail, whatever sans-serif font is default to the browser will be used.

The typeface that’s used is already present in whatever system your website visitor has, so no additional resources will need to be loaded. This will save you precious moments, sometimes even full seconds depending on a visitor’s internet speed, when your site is loaded. When it comes to the internet, every single moment counts.

Color me thrilled!

There’s a new blog post waiting for you. Hip-hip-hooray! 🎉

It’s called: The Top 3 Color Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them).

I guess today is Design Day because I’ve also got a ridiculously informative blog post about how to keep yourself from making easily preventable mistakes when working with color.

Color (or even the absence of color) is an essential part of design. Not only can color draw attention and support a message, it can also influence the emotions of those who see it. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to make terrible mistakes with your choice of colors.

On the other hand, those mistakes are easy to avoid. You just need to know how to avoid them, which is where this blog post comes in! If you find yourself feeling like your colors aren’t working and struggling to fix the mistakes you may be making, this one is absolutely for you.

Click through the link above to learn about the top three mistakes that many people make when working with color. You can up your color game immediately with these valuable and informative tips. Give it a read today!

If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then send me a reply to this email. They’re always wonderful to receive.

Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, stay dandy, cat.

Podcast

Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶


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