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Posts Tagged ‘software’

Efficient design starts with efficient fonts

October 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Typography is a huge part of any well-done graphic design. Choosing the perfect set of fonts and styles for any given design should be intentional and informed, and therefore time consuming. Additionally, the size of a designer’s collection of typefaces grows over time. At an established agency like DigitalDay, we have literally thousands of fonts in our collection that are either supplied by clients, purchased for projects, or picked up from various software installs.

The best tool I’ve found for organizing and working with a large font library is FontExplorer X. It also happens to be free, which is a great bonus. The only downside is that there is no Windows version. There are similar tools for Windows, but for now Linotype’s program is Mac only.  Why do I need any font software, you ask? Well, there are several advantages over the built-in tools on either Mac or Windows.

First, if you have say, 1000 fonts, and they are all activated, it becomes very time consuming to select a font from an applications list. If you’re scrolling through, or just browsing within an application, it’s much more friendly to search through say 50-100 fonts than your entire collection. Loading all of your fonts every time also eats tons of memory. And when you have loads of design applications and files open, every little bit helps.

The true killer feature, for me, is the ability to make font sets or “playlists”. There are many times when I know I’m looking for a sans-serif font, or something very ornate, but I don’t know exactly which font I want to use. What I’ve done is break my entire collection down into different categories. I can browse through single categories at a time, which is an incredible time saver.

Additionally, if I have a large project that uses many different typefaces, I can group them together and activate or deactivate all at once. If you’re familiar with playlists in iTunes, the concept should be familiar. Browsing a few specific fonts instead of digging through hundreds of possibilities is a huge help.

Another nice feature is auto activation. Let’s say you’re working on a big style guide in your page layout program and you’re using many different fonts. You want to be prudent and not leave them active all the time, but you might occasionally forget to turn them on, or forget to add a font you use , etc. Not to worry. Font Explorer X will detect what fonts are used in your file and activate them for you.

Font management is an often-overlooked process, but it can be useful and an incredible time saver. Browsing quickly and intelligently will give you more time to find the perfect fonts for a better piece for your agency and the client.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 – Updated design tools

September 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Word has spread that Adobe released the latest version of its flagship design software, the Creative Suite today. CS4 brings a slew of new features and enhancements to ubiquitous applications like Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver. For many agencies, DigitalDay included, these are the applications we use for building creative work.

Designers will be clamoring to get their hands on a copy, and we’ll see a ton of new work highlighting the latest gadgets and features. There’s nothing wrong with staying current with software, but it’s easy to get caught up in the hype with any software release.

For those on the client side of agency work, examine what your marketing goals and brand standards are, and see if any of the new features or functionality really benefit you. Sure you can now have your logo in 3d, or with a cool animation…but does it really help your brand? Some of the best work has been done with outdated tools or simple shapes and techniques.

For designers, keep in mind the basics of good design, and don’t jump on bandwagons. There might be fancy new filters and fun brushes, but just dropping these in to every design will give you an almost instantly outdated and clichéd look. Keep in mind the goals of your brands and your projects, and be mindful that good design is not based on effects or trendy features. Be confident in your skills and your designs, and let thoughtful beautiful design do its job for you and the client.