Seven was one of the first great modern movie title treatments with some creepy-yet-tasteful typography. Designed by Kyle Cooper, a pioneer in motion graphics who founded Imaginary Forces in 1996 with Peter Frankfurt and Chip Houghton.
This may come across as a political statement, but I assure you, it’s not. I am neither Democrat nor Republican. In fact, I try to stay away from politics as much as I possibly can. However, I find this to be quite an interesting dichotomy.Have a look at George W. Bush’s website:Now, Look at Barack Obama’s:Night and day isn’t it?I’ve always been impressed with Obama’s web presence. I mean, the Prez has a staff who’s got it goin’ on. The day I discovered he was on Twitter, I started following him and checking out his web presence. Now, I’m no idiot. Of course it’s not him doing all the Tweets and uploading to Flickr and updating his Facebook, but he has a presence where this generation connects. His sites utilize video. He has a blog. He’s even got an SMS strategy. In other words, he’s in touch with the online community. Which in this day in age, means, he’s in touch with America. Plus, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the sites are all very standards compliant. Ok, so the XHTML and CSS don’t exactly validate, but there weren’t a ton of errors either. And he’s using JQuery!Some might say, “hey, the Bush site also has Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.” but one quick look and it’s easy to see that it’s basically the RNC behind everything and there’s little-to-no connection to Dub-ya at all. Obama’s people understand how to tie the social experience together, and ultimately bring it back to “the brand” of Obama. Yes, Obama’s got a brand.Let’s get onto some design critique:The Bush website is just plain old. It looks like it’s made by old people, for old people. The design is dated. The content is unintersting. The photos are just plain bad. There are slammers(!) all over the place, which tells me, it was written by someone who doesn’t really know the craft. There’s a lot of other bad things I can point out about this site, but honestly, I think the comparison above pretty much tells the whole story.Obama’s site, on the otherhand, is beautifully designed. And I mean beautiful. Let’s have a look at some of the details. Typographically, it’s flawless. Here’s some very well-integrated ligatures as they show up in Safari…in text no less. View the same page in Firefox, and the ligatures don’t display, but hey, that’s the beauty of web standards. It’s still a flawless presentation of content.Now, this one thrills me to no end (yes, I’m a total geek). Take a look at the quote at the top. They’re actual quote marks. And actual apostrophes. Someone on Obama’s staff knows his/her typography :)Also on that same screen shot above, I’ve dropped down the “Action” menu. Subtle changes like the italics for for are awesome. They have these types of flourishes throughout the site.Think the designers can pay attention to elements such as often-overlooked forms? Yes, they can. Very high usability factor (shhhh…we won’t mention the fact that they used tables though).I hate to admit to being so superficial, but this site is so well-designed that it actually swayed a non-partisan voter like myself over to Obama during the early stages of the election. Alright, alright…it wasn’t just the design of his sites, but his social/cultural awareness certainly played a very significant role for me.And his campaign kept it all up post-election. There have been many blogs written about this lately, but here’s look at the Whitehouse.gov website before and after the Inauguration.Bush Era (not nearly as bad as GeorgeBush.com but definitely not as good as the current Obama administration):Obama Era:This just makes me proud to be an American. Our government doesn’t look like a bureaucratic mess. Obama’s the only President in my lifetime who I can remember having such an appeal to the art+design community, not to mention everyone else, and his web strategy further solidifies the fact that his administration is in tune with the people.In closing, I think a few props should go out to some of the guys that made it happen. I’m not certain who all gets credit for what, but if you look at the CSS code for BarackObama.com…
/* CSSAuthor: Scott ThomasCreated: 12-15-07Author: Walker HamiltonModified: 08-10-07*/…Scott Thomas and Walker Hamilton, you guys are doing a great job!
Ken @ January 21, 2009
I created Antypography to help educate designers in a way that was hopefully different than just another web gallery of good/bad designs. Kyle Meyer, Elliot Jay Stocks and Rett Martin created Typesites with the same intent, but focusing on providing insightful critiques on well-crafted sites instead of ridiculing the mistakes of bad ones.Great idea. Great execution. Nice job, guys. I’ll be reading it regularly.
Ken @ February 6, 2008
Type Violations Comments Off
They appear at the beginning of virtually every DVD or videotaped movie. We’ve all seen them but does anyone pay attention to them? I do, and I’m outraged! Not because I paid good money for a movie and should be able to make my own backups in case the disc goes bad without the fear of imprisonment being shoved down my throat, but because the schmos who design these title slugs don’t know how to follow some of the most basic rules of typesetting. Notice anything odd about line 2? How about line 3? If not, let me explain:
- When typesetting, do NOT use double spaces after a period. That is reserved for typewriters. Many of today’s young designers never had to use a real typewriter at all, so they have no business following the double space rule in the first place.
- Don’t justify text if your measure is not wide enough. Inevitably, some squishing or stretching will occur. A little here and there is not a problem, but this example clearly violates good legibility guidelines.
Is it possible that a single uninformed designer is responsible for every one of these title treatments? Most likely not. But we continually see the same problems over and over, so apparently people are just copying each others mistakes. Ironic, wouldn’t you say? Given that these warnings are designed to prevent duplication?Check out a couple more examples:You might be saying to yourself, the way to solve this problem is to center the text. Well, that’s what this designer did…but they still overlooked the double space in line 3. Now, even though the text is centered, we’re still left with an odd overall shape—particularly on line 4—and an unsightly widow at the end. What’s a designer to do?So, killing the double spaces and moving to left justification of the text should fix it, right? Not if you’re this guy. Nice rag you got there on the right, fella. But at least the double space issue is fixed on this one…or is it? Check out line 7. A double space within a sentence. That’s some good work, right there.You’d think that between the U.S. Government, Interpol and Hollywood, they’d be able to come up with one good designer between them, but for the life of me, I can’t seem to find one well-designed warning screen. Granted, there are a few that aren’t horrible, but for the most part, all of these screens look like they were hastily put together by some low-level production assistant. I don’t have a sample of one, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen the ones from Paramount or FOX that repeat their logos in a pattern in the background with copy set on top of it using an ornate typeface in all caps and a in light color causing all sorts of legibility issues. Oh, the shame of it all…we do better than this.If I had the time, I’d put together a library of warning screen templates at all of the relevant sizes and start plastering them all over the internet along with the source files in the hopes that someone would take notice and start using them. Based on how much they seem to be derived from one another, it may not take long to actually have an effect. That’s the optimist speaking. The pessimistic side of me would say, the so-called art for these slugs are already sitting in the libraries of post-production houses everywhere that the likelihood of change is slim. But then again, it gives me something to complain and write about, so I suppose that makes up for it all.
Ken @ January 27, 2008