As you probably already know, Avatar: The Way of Water will come out at the end of this year. However, the logo won’t be in the same Papyrus typeface as the original. Instead, John Roshell at Swell Type was commissioned to create a new typeface for the upcoming film.
They have written about the process on the Swell Type blog, which is a relatively short, but fascinating read nonetheless. I was initially surprised that a new typeface was created, instead of the logo being designed. But when you think about how many places this typeface will be used—the film, websites, marketing, social media, etc. it makes sense.
Talking about the new typeface itself, I think it suits Avatar very well. It has a clear evolution from Papyrus, but adds a bit more character.
I’m now going to be hyper-aware of this typeface whenever I see anything relating to Avatar, but I wonder if normal people will notice anything different?
Why Do So Many Brands Change Their Logos and Look Like Everyone Else? #
This is a trend that is clearly visible, and I think is part of a bigger trend in modern design. In my opinion we see less personality and originality in logos nowadays. A logo used to be something, not just a brand name in a sans-serif font, a specific colour, styled with abnormal capitalisation.
One theory I have, is that it’s part of a brands evolution to progressively make their logo more and more generic. Because maybe they see that as part of becoming a more reputable brand, instead of a small childish company with a trendy logo. Whatever the reason may be, I think I would still prefer to see companies show some personality once in a while.
The Iconic Watches That Inspired Apple Watch Faces #
I'm by no means a "watch person", and if you simply showed me 10 iconic watches in person, I wouldn't have much interest. But I couldn't stop reading this. I find it fascinating how the various differences in watches came about, and also how much detail Apple put into their watch faces.
It's made me think of watches a lot differently, and while I don't think I'm going to go out and start a mechanical watch collection, I think I have a new found appreciation for watch face design.
In the mind’s eye of many people, Japan is a land of tranquil Zen gardens, serene temples, and exquisite tea ceremonies. Both traditional and contemporary Japanese architecture, books and magazines are the envy of designers worldwide. Yet for some reason practically none of this mastery has been translated into digital products, in particular websites, most of which look like they hail from around 1998.
The company I work for is owned by Alibaba Group, so therefore I’m exposed to some Chinese-first websites and tools, and I’ve always pondered the reasons behind the difference to what the western-world is used to.
While this article is focussed on Japanese web design, I think there are a lot of similarities. It makes me wonder if any other cultural differences have an effect on design.
I Don’t Like It When Apps Change Their Tab Bar Items #
In the past few weeks, two apps I use a lot on my phone have changed the layout of their tab bars. It sounds like something that you couldn’t get annoyed about, but here I am. I’m sure this annoyance happens to other people, and to other apps that I don’t use, but the two that are bugging me today are Instagram and YouTube.
Okay, so putting aside the fact that Instagram seems to change their interface weekly, with the option to create a new post or story being moved all around the interface. They clearly do this only for a few users, as a lot of people I know haven’t seen any kind of change. But at least for me, every week there’s at least one thing that’s moved.
For now, I’ll focus on the tab bar. Although, who knows, it might even change tomorrow.
So what I have now is five items, Home, Discover, Reels, Shop, and Profile. I get that they want to push Reels as a feature (even though I think it’s terrible), and yes you can buy things on Instagram now (I also think this is bad). But why do these items need to fill up 40% of the tab bar?
I liked having the Activity item in the tab bar before, but you could argue that regularly checking your likes, comments, and follows isn’t that healthy. So moving that away from the tab bar, and adding just a tiny bit of friction may be helpful for some people.
But what about the most important part of Instagram, posting photos? Surely that deserves to be the most prominent action in the UI. Rather, it’s (currently) in the top left, at least for me, and only when you are on the Home screen. Weirdly, if you are on your profile you also have a button in the same place, but this is just to open a list allowing you to create a post, story, highlight, IGTV video, or Reel. Why there needs to be 5 content options is beyond me.
This change isn’t as drastic as what Instagram is doing, but it still messes with my muscle memory a lot.
The change here is the addition of the Create button in the centre. Although pressing this doesn’t actually take you to the upload interface. Instead, you get a boring list interface like the Create option on Instagram. But here you only have two options, to upload a video, or to start a live stream.1
It’s sort of the opposite of Instagram, where the changes there are to make you view Reels and use the shopping feature. But in the YouTube app, they seem to want you to create more.
I would argue that the opposite is how people use these platforms. Sure, a lot of people upload videos to YouTube, and maybe some people like to watch Reels and shop on Instagram. But at least in my mind, YouTube is the app where the majority of people would be consuming content, and Instagram is the place where you are more likely to be sharing content. Also seeing as the phone app is the only place where you can post images, since there is no iPad app (which I think is totally idiotic), and you can’t upload anything on the web interface.
Most of the time when apps change their UI, the annoyance is purely down to muscle memory and having to readjust to a new layout. But these changes just seem to be stupid to me. They seem to be geared towards attracting desired behaviour like shopping or starting live streams, rather than showcasing features that users do more often.
These two options are also totally pointless for me. Seeing as I don’t upload videos, and if I try to start a live stream I get told I’m not actually eligible to stream from a mobile device. ↩︎
Wikipedia has remained a critical and widely-used resource for knowledge across the world for the past two decades. Over this time, the site has expanded significantly to contain unparalleled amounts of reliable and thorough information, including 53 million articles across over 300 languages. While Wikipedia’s content has grown rapidly, our interface has not kept pace. We’re proud that our website is more direct, simple, and advertisement-free than the rest of the internet. Yet, the design of desktop Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects have not seen any substantive changes for the past 10 years, leaving certain elements of the site’s navigation feeling clunky and overwhelming to readers and editors whose main purpose is to create, learn, and curate content.
There’s no definitive list yet on the differences that will be coming in the new design. But the improvements will include things like a max content width, collapsible sidebar, sticky headers, more prominent search bar and table of contents, and a few other things. You can see a few of these concepts on MediaWiki.
After going through the case study, it certainly isn’t a perfect experience. But I still feel like I need to check out HEY at some point. Even just to see what everyone is on about. Although I do already get the feeling that while I may like the idea, it’s not done in the right way for me.
These are of course preemptive, but I’ve got three reasons why I probably won’t like HEY:
There’s currently no support for custom domains. So I’d be stuck with another email address.
You have to use their own email clients. Which may be fine at the start, but I can’t imagine I’ll be wanting to use the HEY email client for the rest of my life.
I’m not sure how I feel about paying for an email service. Especially as everything is so closed down. If I go all in on HEY, then after a year I decide to quit, then I’ve got to go through the process of switching everything to a new address.
In years past, our proofs were full of pangrammatic foxes and lynxes and the rest, which made for some very merry reading. But invariably, I’d find myself staring down a lowercase J — and if I questioned the amount of space assigned to its left side, I’d set off in search of some confirmation in the proof. Each time, I’d be reminded that while pangrams delivered all kinds of jocks and japes and jutes and judges, even our prodigious list featured not a single word with a J in the middle. I also started to notice that Xs had an unusually strong affinity for Ys in pangrams, because pangrams make a sport of concision. Words like foxy and oxygen deliver real bang for your buck if you’re out to craft a compact sentence, but to the typeface designer noticing that the pair XY looks consistently wrong, none of these words will reveal which letter is at fault. I’d find myself rewriting the pangrams, popping in an occasional ‘doxology’ to see if the X was balanced between round letters, or ‘dynamo’ to review the Y between flat ones.
It’s an interesting problem, and one I can’t say I’ve ever thought about. But it makes sense that when proofing a font, you’d want to be able to capture a high majority of scenarios, not just a few good looking panoramas that probably aren’t similar to what a real sentence would look like.
However, Jonathan has come up with a proof that tackles things such as the spacing between different types of letters, how each letter looks at the start of a word, what double letters look like, and most likely more things that I won’t understand. Font proofing is certainly nothing I’ve considered before, but I always find it intriguing to see how people identify problems, and especially how they come up with a better solution.
The Awesome Mac OS Catalina Fonts You Didn’t Know You Had Access To #
Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.
To see and install these optional fonts, open the FontBook application and switch to “All Fonts”. Browse the font list and you will see lots of font families that are greyed out—either because they were deactivated or they weren’t downloaded yet. If you right-click on a font or font family that wasn’t downloaded yet, you see an option to download the individual font or entire family.
Who would have thought there was essentially “hidden” fonts in Catalina? I certainly wouldn’t.
Ligatures in programming fonts—a misguided trend I was hoping would collapse under its own illogic. But it persists. Let me save you some time—
Ligatures in programming fonts are a terrible idea.
And not because I’m a purist or a grump. (Some days, but not today.) Programming code has special semantic considerations. Ligatures in programming fonts are likely to either misrepresent the meaning of the code, or cause miscues among readers. So in the end, even if they’re cute, the risk of error isn’t worth it.
His post certainly opened my mind up to the problems with ligatures in a programming font. It actually made me switch away from the new monospaced typeface from JetBrains, simply because of its use of ligatures, 138 code-specific ligatures to be exact.