What follows are the core values in which I hope to ground this project. Some principles, and a compass.
A common language
Typographic idiom has shifted for the web medium; there are some new concepts and some old concepts that apply in new ways. To communicate clearly and perhaps reach new understandings, we must speak the same language.
Mechanics without mystery
Like every art, there is a mysterious allure at play in the world of typography. Problem is, we’re mistaking technical wizardry for the magic that happens once working methods become second nature. We must demystify the compound technologies at play in our field.
Bad business is bad craft is bad business
For as long as our industry is mired in foreboding litigation and unprofitable prospects, we will never fulfill our potential as makers. We have no greater means to overcome our obstacles than respect and education: listen and let the rules be fair; then, explain the rules so pros can do their thing.
Partly this has been addressed by the other items. A common language and clarification of art and craft will help garner understanding among those with whom we currently cannot communicate, and the respect parceled with a thriving business can communicate in ways that words don’t.
However, there are disrespectful forces at play in our culture. As we continue to investigate and discuss typography on the web, articulating these forces – and how they affect us – will be enlightening.
On web-typographic style
Typography, like a human voice, gives life and passion to the words it delivers. And while certainly not everyone who uses the web to communicate will honor his or her own voice with typographic soul, so doing distinguishes one’s unique countenance from an otherwise uniform online populace. As a web designer, to heed the call of typographic style is to commit one’s attention and sensitivity to the relative control of web type.
Typographers and designers have traditionally enjoyed a rigorous command over type. Regardless of typesetting limitations, what left the designer’s hands became manifest as the precise representation of such.
Web typography, however, is subject to a constantly variable combination of devices and software.
Therefore, good web-typographic style is not absolute; it is relative to web par, and it is presently measured as much by its refutation of poor web conventions as by its legibility and its beauty.
This self-referrential relativity will not always be the measure of good style, though. As technology improves, so too will the presentation of web type. Eventually its beauty and quality will rival that of print type, and general good style will no longer subordinate good web style.
But for the time being, those committed to web style cannot ignore typography because of its relative-to-print shortcomings. They must harmonize the available with the most reasonable and the most beautiful typographic solutions; and they must adapt as presentational conditions improve.
This commitment, of course, requires us to know: what is available, what is reasonable, what is beautiful. It is a matter of equal parts diligence and good taste: that we should know the consequences of our actions as web typographers; that we should steady our balance, buffeted by the sea our art, fundamentally changed by the tectonic layers of our technological foundations.
To serve and guide us toward this knowledge: Nice Web Type.