Some of the best designers are also writers, but at the very least we should all be readers. Writing is turning into a crucial role for us; when it’s our job to articulate ideas we have to be clear about what those ideas are and how to best present them. Read the text first, then make recommendations to the author about clarity, pace and length to ensure the text is digestible. All too often designers find themselves rewriting all of the text, stripping out the nonsense and getting at the core ideas. And this becomes absolutely key on the web, where writing has a very utilitarian function and ideas need to be as streamlined as possible. Use lists; break long pieces up with clear headings and subheadings; summarize up front; use emphasis to break homogeny.
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Typefaces change the tone of text, so know what your words are saying and how your typeface emphasizes and articulates the message. Not every typeface is the right choice for every job, but most designers have a handful of favorites that cover just about everything. Analyze older print designs and see how some of the greats still stand up today; good typography has a lot to do with the timelessness of a piece.
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It’s generally a good idea to keep the typeface as is, that is, don’t stretch it, increase or decrease the tracking too much (that’s the space between letters) or apply faux bold or italic (an easy mistake in the Photoshop type palette). While some will argue for strict utility of headlines and body copy, sometimes it’s interesting to break the rules in the interest of the content and readability.
Link to the rest at iStockphoto and thanks to Kelly for the tip.