Jason Kottke recently redesigned his popular website, getting rid of the yellows, playing with some funny decoration positioning tricks and changing the typography, making everything considerably larger. The new specified default font size is 16px, roughly the same size as the text you’re reading now and on sites like Wilson Miner’s. Score another one for aging web users whose vision is getting worse with time.
About namedrops his font of choice: “Whitney by Hoefler & Frere-Jones.” This comes through in the design: Whitney is the first font specified in the stylesheet, followed by Myriad Pro, Helvetica, Helvetica Neue, Arial, and then falling back on whatever the designated sans-serif may be.
The site’s unlikely to look like it does on Jason’s computer for more than a couple thousand people, possibly dozens of whom visit his site regularly. For most Mac users and a rare few Windows users, Myriad Pro will be used, followed by Helvetica (for many Windows users and the Mac users still using versions of OS X more than four years old), Helvetica Neue (It’s a rare computer that would have Helvetica Neue installed but not Helvetica or Myriad), Arial (for the remaining Windows users and the Linux users with the Microsoft Core Fonts package installed).
So he’s using some odd font specification rules: The circumstances under which a computer would have Helvetica Neue but not Helvetica are rare at best, and Verdana strikes me as being a closer match to Whitney than Arial is (although the metrics are probably less alike). Linux is accommodated in the breach, but there was room for him to specify Liberation Sans (for something Helvetica-ish) or Vera Sans (for something Arial-ish).
JoomPress is a mythical synthesis of WordPress and Joomla. It combines the beauty and ease of use of WordPress’s admininistration features with the robustness of Joomla’s document/information management model. This ain’t happening for a variety of reasons, not least because you can’t whipstitch two animals together and expect the result to walk, but maybe that’s better investigated another time.
An easier goal is to combine WordPress and Joomla output, because WordPress is pretty weak about content organization and Joomla’s blogging ability is nonexistent. Letting the CMS tool do the CMSing and the blog tool do the blogging is appealing and practical in theory. In corporate websites it would allow a strong firewall between the people doing document management and the people writing the PR releases. Before rerigging cloudiness entirely in WordPress, I tried a JoomPress hybrid, to run a WordPress blog behind a Joomla front-end. The trial got far enough along to convince me that somebody could make it work. If others want to try, the notes are below.
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This site’s redesign is largely the product of bashing stylesheets over a post-New Year’s weekend. No real design strategy aside from wanting something less dry than the old version. About all I could say about the size of the text has already been said better in Wilson Miner’s Relative Readability (and the rantier, nuts-and-bolts 100e2r by Oliver Reichenstein). I’ll add only that now I’m old and feeble enough to require bifocals I’ll cheer on anything that claims whacking huge typography will become a fashionable design trend.
Aside from that, I’ve been wanting to bring color into the site in some form, and the old version of the site had lain dormant for long enough that moving the furniture around and giving cloudiness a fresh coat of paint might be what it needs to get me engaged in it again.
The nuts-and-bolts version of the cloudiness redesign will be in a pending post. As I write this not all the fitting’s been trimmed, nor all the bolts yet tightened.