Archive for the ‘typography’ Category

Little Things: Home Depot's Quicklinks

Check this out:

Beautiful vertical rhythm, hierarchy, varied value, and manicured line breaks make this menu beautiful.

Beautiful vertical rhythm, hierarchy, varied value, and manicured line breaks make this menu beautiful.

There are a lot of negative things I could say about, like the unintuitive architecture etc. But instead I’d like to mention a VERY minor detail that I think 99% of designers would never think of. Let’s face it, the entire Home Depot experience, virtual or otherwise, is overwhelming. Take a look at the quicklinks on the left hand side of the site. They’re there to give you smarter access to the high-demand product areas of their daunting product selection.The type size hierarchy is gorgeous, the color variance ads a nicely priortized foil to the signature orange they could be over-doing (but they’re not), and the almost retro usage of the link underline is unmistakably usable.

But here is where I totally geek out. Notice how each category of links has two lines. Now, notice how the first line always ends with a comma. Why is that, you ask? Well whoever designed this menu (props) took the time to add a simple attribute to the links in this definition list to disallow the links from wrapping onto a new line. Essentially, this CSS author added the following attribute to the definition data type selector:

dd a { white-space:nowrap; }

This allows each line to end with a complete link. Why would anyone bother doing this? This is the usability quivalent of a print-designer manually setting type to clean up any awkwayd hyphenation. To put it another way, consider the user’s mentality when viewing this list. Am I looking for “Toilets, Tubs & Whirlpools?” or do I just want “Toilets?” Well, without this attribute, “Tubs &” would probably reside on the first line potentially causing confusion about where the which link is which and where each ends. I know I’m making to much of this, but I’d love to think that someday, someone might spaz over my attention to detail like I’m geeking out over this right now.

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  • Filed under: technique, typography, usability
  • Ban Trebuchet

    You’re probably aware of the anti-comic sans movement among designers and assorted type snobs (see ban comic sans). But while we’re hating on god-awful typefaces designed for Microsoft (notice a trend here?) let’s toss Trebuchet into the mix. Despite gaining popularity in the “aren’t I cheeky?” blog era of the web for its universal availablity (see: ubiquitous mediocrity), Trebuchet MS is contributing to dumbing down interactive type design.

    Trebuchet MS

    • Trebuchet’s clumsy weights allow little room for elegance.
    • Its awkward, schizophrenic features (“g”, “l”, “&”, “$”, “?”) distract the eye’s natural rhythm and decrease readability.
    • Drastically inconsistent x-heights (“A” vs. “x”) establish jarring vertical agreements.
    • The ampersands (“&”) is a ligature of a bad “E” and a stumpy “t”. That’s just savage.
    • You can’t just throw in a half slab-serif whenever you feel like it (“i”, “j”). Were you raised in a barn?

    While I’m all for experimentation and destinguishing yourself from the competition, this font has been abused in recent years. And while I may have been able to overlook its childish qualities in small doses, the time has come for someone to stand up against type that sucks. I simply can’t overlook it anymore. And I urge you to write your congressman and/or local web designer to reclaim our dignity and stop abusing this heinous face.

  • Filed under: rants, typography