As the saying goes: Everything old is new again. That’s true in design for sure. This month some of the biggest trends in web design aren’t that new at all. Designers are reinventing old-school typography styles, returning to the grid and rethinking messaging on the home page.
It’s an interesting combination of visual elements that we’ve seen in the past, and will probably see again in the future. Here’s what’s trending in design this month:
1. Old school typography
More designers are taking an old-school approach to display typography. Gone are the ultra-thin or condensed sans serifs, and more traditional type styles are in. Old-style, modern and transitional serifs are the new go-to display type style.
It’s a bit surprising, actually. For years. The “rule” has been to use sans serifs to improve readability and designers did just that, often without question. The new use of serifs for big type — and even some smaller type — is refreshing and quite readable. The designs often live in a minimal space, so that type does not have to compete for attention and pairings focus on dark lettering on a light background. (All things that aid readability.)
Don’t know much about these type styles? Here’s a quick primer on each of these “new” old-school serifs:
Old-style: Lettering has an old-world vibe that carries over from some blackletter and gothic styles from early ages of printing. Letterforms often have small serifs (those tiny strokes at the end of longer stokes) and a rounded form. RSQ, below, is a perfect showcase of old-style typography.
Modern: This style of lettering is quite common in printed design, such as newspapers and magazines, but is just starting to make its way into web projects. Modern serifs have alternating thick and thin stroke widths in each letterform, sometimes with great amounts of contrast. Ink + Volt, below, uses a beautiful modern serif. But also note how the lettering is used. The type is inside of a white box so that the thin parts of each letter do not get lost in the video background, which would limit readability. This is the perfect solution for using a modern serif.
Transitional: These letterforms look a lot like modern serifs with one big difference – letters have uniform stroke widths. This makes traditional serifs easier to use because they can be more readable in more design situations.
Not all old-school typography falls into a serif category. Some of the old-school styles that are popping up just remind us of another time, such as that used by The Frontend Guide, below. The funky, tilted, late 1970s-early 80s theme really does take you to another time and place. (And that’s totally old-school.)