So, I notice things. Design trends and whatnot. Sometimes I focus on the way the content I am digesting is delivered to me. Specifically as it relates to mobile views. As we continue to go down the responsive path and refine our delivery of web content, we find ourselves pushing the limits of type hierarchy.
There was a time not too long ago when you opened a website on your phone, and you got a cute mini version of your desktop website, with microscopic fonts to match.
Now, we can't have that, not when mobile is easily the leading avenue to get your news updates, to buy toilet paper, to find a job, to do a quick google search, to WebMD why that rash won't go away, what have you. That is why we now have mobile-friendly layouts, either from mobile-specific webpages, mobile apps, and my favorite, responsive design.
I've been doing this web-design thing for a few years now, and I've seen my fair share of responsive web builds. I also use my phone A LOT. Way more than I use my laptop or my desktop. One might say that I could suffice with just a phone, but the days of being able to design on my phone are far from the present, so I won't get ahead of myself. I look at websites mainly for content, but in the background, I am scanning them for design cues I can use later.
I was reading an email tonight and I was struck with the thought that a lot of modern websites and mobile apps are going beyond the premise that you need to strip out content to make something mobile friendly. I've noticed that a lot of what is lost in mobile layouts only goes to the extent of what you can fit within a vertical space, with fewer columns and pixels.
Designers began setting up mobile layouts very conservatively, essentially testing the waters in a new technology. We overcompensated for the fact that desktop websites just didn't work in mobile layouts. Now that we have rich content made specifically for the mobile user, we are now realizing that we need to have type systems to match.
But! Fear not, my friends of type, because the thought that small fonts don't belong in your mobile layout is a thing of the past. To ensure that content is scanned and comprehended the same way we view on the desktop space, we see designers shrinking type beyond what the novice designer would find appropriate. This has allowed us to keep our type clean, elegant, digestible and at the same time, gives us more bang for our buck in the vertical scroll. And to ensure the same hierarchical levels we find in our desktop layouts make their way into a new viewport environment. Although we're finally getting comfortable with pushing the limits of type size in the mobile space, it's still important to maintain appropriate levels of size to ensure the sophisticated mobile user is getting the most out of your web experience.
As we get a better handle on how responsive works for our content, let us take cues from the sites we invest our time in and keep pushing the limits of the information that we (or our clients) want us to read about and experience. The best way to know if the type we are setting is comfortable in our mobile layouts, is to test these styles in your previewing app, such as Live Preview for my Adobe CC subscribers or Skala Preview for the rest of you. As we get better, or better stated, as our tools adapt to our new technologies, we need to harness what's available to us to keep improving our craft.
So, now that you know what to look for when you're reading the news, making use of that two-ply, reading up on that rash cream that your virtual doctor prescribed, you'll be able to establish the perfect type system for your mobile viewports.