September 23, 2019 0

New York City Subway Map designer + Bad Fonts – The Good, the Bad, and the Tip


The Good this week happened back in 1970, Titanic old lady: It’s been 84 years. …but five and a half million people make
it to their jobs every day thanks to it. Back in the 70’s, the New York City subway
was a mess and getting you from point A to point B without getting lost required some
divine intervention. Designers Noorda and Massimo Vignelli envisioned
one of the most iconic and recognized visual systems of the 20st century… and it’s not
just about shaping this map into this map They didn’t just design signs, they designed
a system. They rethought the way people used the subways,
and turned their concept into a system that is admired by designers everywhere, and is the backbone for many other subways around the world. They gave the system its sans-serif typeface
(the sign-makers could not yet print Helvetica, so they settled initially for Standard Medium),
a clean, easy to read font. Vignelli and Noordis’ design was not merely
intended to look good — which it does — but to simplify navigation of the subway for the
passenger. They upheld another design principle: you
gotta be able to use it. The original UX designers! Speaking of fonts, let’s talk about BAD fonts
you shouldn’t be using. To me, the top of the list is held by Calibri. I honestly believe this is one of the ugliest
fonts ever invented by mankind, I hold it up there with other design fails such the
infamous Comic Sans MS. Using Calibri for a presentation or a document
speaks almost too much about you, especially if you call yourself a designer. It tells us that you didn’t bother to find
a better font for your doc, or even worse, that you thought it looked good. Other fonts along those lines, Lobster, Brush
Script, Papyrus, Bradley Hand and God forbid, Lucida Handwriting. So the tip today is obviously around fonts
you CAN use, and better yet, FREE! Here are three of our favorite picks: Open Sans, by Google. A simple Sans-serif font that adapts as its
being integrated on websites all over the world. I’m sure you have recognized it. Alégre Sans is a beautiful, sans-serif capitalized
font that we find particularly attractive for headers. It’s like a beautiful version of IMPACT, but
still… impactful. Raleway is another another Google Font; this
one actually represents a great free alternative to Helvetica Ultralight. It was designed originally as a lightweight
typeface and later evolved to add new, bolder variants. We’ll see you tomorrow for our FAQ Friday.

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