Hand Writing in Web Design

16 May 2008 - 4:12pm
6 years ago
13 replies
870 reads
harvinder
2007

There was recently an article in a magazine and I am not sure which one was
it out of Inc, Entrepreneur or Fast Company where they were talking about
increasing role of hand written design. Has anybody read that?
What do you guys think of hand written design as a part of web design. Are
there any websites which are very well done with hand written design. One of
the blogs where I found some information is at
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/03/hand-drawing-style-in-modern-web-
design/
Thanks

Harvinder Singh
210-614-4198 O
210-884-1311 C
harvinder at bestica.com
www.bestica.com
Bridging the IT Talent Gap
http://www.linkedin.com/in/harvindersingh

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Comments

17 May 2008 - 4:36pm
Jeff Seager
2007

Well, I'm going to assume you're not flame-baiting. That doesn't
mean my own opinion won't generate a little heat.

I think the idea has some very small degree of merit, in the same way
any visual imagery has merit as a design element. But overall it is
crap, and a vestige of print designers' thinking that does not
belong on the Web. The handwritten content must be rendered as an
embedded image, which will require proper tagging for accessibility,
and some people simply won't bother. In fact, this wasn't mentioned
at all in the Smashing Magazine article -- which I think is patently
irresponsible of the contributor.

Good web design shares some characteristics and sensibilities with
good print design and with good television and movie production
values. But it is a new and different medium, with additional
constraints and concerns that include portability and extensibility,
and people who try to fit it into those old pigeonholes do us all a
disservice ... especially when they lead others down that dead-end
path with them.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 May 2008 - 7:36pm
matthew holloway
2008

Jeff, i am confused... you say "overall its crap" because its a
vestige from print design but then say good web design shares its
sensibilities with good print design. Frankly from my POV, which I
know has no merit to this community, if it works it works. If you
don't like, then you should just say "I don't like it"--which
also has no real merit, the only thing that matters is if client and
their readers like it.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 May 2008 - 10:07pm
Dave Cortright
2005

One need not use an image for alternate font text. SIFR is a great solution
for this.
http://wiki.novemberborn.net/sifr3

Here's an example of SIFR in use with a handwriting font.
http://www.sspl.org/

17 May 2008 - 11:01pm
Jeff Seager
2007

Web design and print design share *some* characteristics, Matthew. I
also share some characteristics with a mountain gorilla, but I'm not
a mountain gorilla. In a similar way, the Web is an evolutionary
cousin of print and other media. Many fundamental design principles
do carry over to web design. Some don't.

Among other things, I'm an accessibility advocate. The various
markup languages used in web design were meant from the start to
serve up content in accessible ways, and this idea of doing
handwritten design might be OK for very limited use -- maybe for a
site on the topic of excellent handwriting, or handwriting analysis.
To use it extensively would be a real headache if you did it as the
standards require. So a more polite way of saying "this is crap"
would be to say "I don't like headaches."

The point where we may diverge is this: "If it works, it works."
What does that mean? If it's standards-compliant and semantically
structured AND attractive and functional, it works. Otherwise, it
just looks good. The thing that riles me about that statement is that
it carries this underlying assumption: If it works for ME, it will
work for EVERYONE. And that's not true.

On one level, design is design. All disciplines share certain
principles of good design. But you don't design a 20-story building
with the exact same engineering principles used in designing a kite,
even though the two can have significant aesthetic similarities. A
highway engineer doesn't design a complex interchange to LOOK good
first, without regard to function, and I think the Smashing Magazine
article encourages just that kind of thinking.

Web design isn't just what we see and experience on the browser du
jour. There's a bunch of important stuff under the hood. My personal
feelings of aesthetic like or dislike aside, I don't call a design
"good" unless it also satisfies the basic rules of structure and
accessibility.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 May 2008 - 11:12pm
Scott McDaniel
2007

man what

On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 12:01 AM, Jeff Seager <abrojos at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Web design and print design share *some* characteristics, Matthew. I
> also share some characteristics with a mountain gorilla, but I'm not
> a mountain gorilla. In a similar way, the Web is an evolutionary
> cousin of print and other media. Many fundamental design principles
> do carry over to web design. Some don't.
>
> Among other things, I'm an accessibility advocate. The various
> markup languages used in web design were meant from the start to
> serve up content in accessible ways, and this idea of doing
> handwritten design might be OK for very limited use -- maybe for a
> site on the topic of excellent handwriting, or handwriting analysis.
> To use it extensively would be a real headache if you did it as the
> standards require. So a more polite way of saying "this is crap"
> would be to say "I don't like headaches."
>
> The point where we may diverge is this: "If it works, it works."
> What does that mean? If it's standards-compliant and semantically
> structured AND attractive and functional, it works. Otherwise, it
> just looks good. The thing that riles me about that statement is that
> it carries this underlying assumption: If it works for ME, it will
> work for EVERYONE. And that's not true.
>
> On one level, design is design. All disciplines share certain
> principles of good design. But you don't design a 20-story building
> with the exact same engineering principles used in designing a kite,
> even though the two can have significant aesthetic similarities. A
> highway engineer doesn't design a complex interchange to LOOK good
> first, without regard to function, and I think the Smashing Magazine
> article encourages just that kind of thinking.
>
> Web design isn't just what we see and experience on the browser du
> jour. There's a bunch of important stuff under the hood. My personal
> feelings of aesthetic like or dislike aside, I don't call a design
> "good" unless it also satisfies the basic rules of structure and
> accessibility.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29152
>
>
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17 May 2008 - 11:34pm
Joe Pemberton
2007

I prefer to keep writing new rules; which means breaking old ones.

Consider this: when you started thinking all the rules were already prescribed you may havr closed yourself to new thinking. I applaud a resurgence in a hand aesthetic because it just might indicate someone is still thinking and exploring and designing and it might help people connect with digital content, tools, &c.

Of course, as with any design trend, by the time it becomes a trend people will be applying it without thinking, which is not designing. Crap, did my old school &c. break somebody's notion of written language on the web?

17 May 2008 - 11:22pm
Todd Moy
2007

David, SIFR is a good alternative, but it works only for handwritten fonts,
but not for actual handwriting.

Jeff, here comes the heat. :) Saying that handwriting is wholly
inappropriate is way too singular.

What it boils down to is "it depends". Is the treatment used for core
navigation and information--or is it being used to accent the design? And
what is the purpose and audience of the site? Maybe for a photographer's
portfolio, it makes sense to use it in the primary navigation since the
visitors are most likely sighted. Or, maybe looking at it with a browser
with images disabled isn't a requirement.

So, I'm with Matt on this one. It's up to the UXD to figure out whether the
negatives are outweighed by the benefit. Saying it's crap is like saying
page layout should never be used to indicate architecture.

On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 12:01 AM, Jeff Seager <abrojos at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Web design and print design share *some* characteristics, Matthew. I
> also share some characteristics with a mountain gorilla, but I'm not
> a mountain gorilla. In a similar way, the Web is an evolutionary
> cousin of print and other media. Many fundamental design principles
> do carry over to web design. Some don't.
>
> Among other things, I'm an accessibility advocate. The various
> markup languages used in web design were meant from the start to
> serve up content in accessible ways, and this idea of doing
> handwritten design might be OK for very limited use -- maybe for a
> site on the topic of excellent handwriting, or handwriting analysis.
> To use it extensively would be a real headache if you did it as the
> standards require. So a more polite way of saying "this is crap"
> would be to say "I don't like headaches."
>
> The point where we may diverge is this: "If it works, it works."
> What does that mean? If it's standards-compliant and semantically
> structured AND attractive and functional, it works. Otherwise, it
> just looks good. The thing that riles me about that statement is that
> it carries this underlying assumption: If it works for ME, it will
> work for EVERYONE. And that's not true.
>
> On one level, design is design. All disciplines share certain
> principles of good design. But you don't design a 20-story building
> with the exact same engineering principles used in designing a kite,
> even though the two can have significant aesthetic similarities. A
> highway engineer doesn't design a complex interchange to LOOK good
> first, without regard to function, and I think the Smashing Magazine
> article encourages just that kind of thinking.
>
> Web design isn't just what we see and experience on the browser du
> jour. There's a bunch of important stuff under the hood. My personal
> feelings of aesthetic like or dislike aside, I don't call a design
> "good" unless it also satisfies the basic rules of structure and
> accessibility.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29152
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

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17 May 2008 - 11:43pm
Kontra
2007

> If it's standards-compliant and semantically structured AND attractive and
> functional, it works.

MySpace.
Can 117 million people be wrong?

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

18 May 2008 - 2:16pm
Jeff Seager
2007

On reflection, I've overreacted a bit. I saw this site linked from
the Smashing Magazine article:

http://www.melkadel.com/

... and it set me off. It's just not accessible *at all* to screen
readers, text-only browsers, PDAs, cellphones ... which in this case
is marginally OK, because the site is all about visual art anyway --
except that this kind of design is also not accessible to people with
impaired vision who are not entirely blind, and may appreciate the
content. I've said it before here, and I'll say it again: This is a
rapidly increasing percentage of people in the industrialized world,
because of the aging 'baby boomers' and because of the way we've
abused our eyes by sitting in front of cathode ray tubes most of our
lives. In the next 20 years, experts predict a huge increase in the
number of people with retinopathy and other vision impairments. Those
people are likely to control a fairly large share of the disposable
income that ends up in the pockets of retailers, and those retailers
are using the Web for marketing and sales.

It's great to think expansively, but I'm fairly sure we'll regret
it if we break the rules without considering why those rules are
important. You can always break any rule if you're willing and able
to pay the price for doing so. In this case, the price may be losing
paying customers if you don't do this thoughtfully. Progressive
enhancement serves everyone.

As Todd wisely notes, "it depends." I agree with Todd completely
that my strident objection to the use of handwriting were too harsh
and absolute. It can have a limited role, but I'm disappointed that
the linked article failed to hint at any drawbacks. Thanks, Todd, for
converting the heat into light. I'll try to react less, or at least
to write less when I do react.

Can 117 million people be wrong? Sure! Was the German population
right to back Hitler in the 1930s and '40s? Everything looks much
clearer in hindsight. The same is true of any social or technological
movement. I've lived long enough to perceive that
MySpace/Facebook/Twitter are an unsustainable fad, enjoyable enough
for now, and when those 117 million people find they need to be
productive to get ahead in the world, or when they start having
babies, they will just as quickly abandon this for more profitable
and urgent uses of their time. In the meantime, somebody's profiting
and I think that's just great. MySpace isn't right or wrong; they
make choices and they experience consequences.

All that said, only time will tell whether my opinions about this
have merit. My life experience suggests they do, and your mileage
certainly will vary.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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18 May 2008 - 2:56pm
Jennifer Vignone
2008

>
>
http://www.melkadel.com/

I am so sorry that I do not see where it is but please help me.

Where is the 'home" link/point of access?

Is it meant to be the "New Work"?
It seems to go to new work when you hit 'Enter' right after the url,
but I guess I am expecting something else.

18 May 2008 - 7:09pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Let me rephrase: "People are born to work. Once they discover this
inevitable truth, they will abandon social websites" ...and return to their
cubicles.

I think, this is absurd, even if I remove the cubicles part. Social networks
do not end at work and do not have to be profitable. Most of my friends on
Facebook are older than thirty (they range from 19 to 55 years old). None
of them (including my daughter) sells me anything (in the merchant sense).

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

Jeff Seager wrote:

> ... Can 117 million people be wrong? Sure! Was the German population
> right to back Hitler in the 1930s and '40s? Everything looks much
> clearer in hindsight. The same is true of any social or technological
> movement. I've lived long enough to perceive that
> MySpace/Facebook/Twitter are an unsustainable fad, enjoyable enough
> for now, and when those 117 million people find they need to be
> productive to get ahead in the world, or when they start having
> babies, they will just as quickly abandon this for more profitable
> and urgent uses of their time.

18 May 2008 - 9:03pm
Jeff Seager
2007

Not what I'm saying at all, Oleh, but rephrase me and assail your
misinterpretations all you like! ;-)

If our real lives aren't ultimately more meaningful than our virtual
lives, neither will be worth much. From the perspective of the social
scientist, I don't think social networking has sufficient meaning to
remain relevant. We'll see.

I'm sorry for the unintended threadjack.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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23 May 2008 - 12:58pm
Joe Pemberton
2007

Back to handwriting in web design: http://sfdesignweek.org/

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