Robin Rendle

Foundry websites

Pals! Acquaintances! Friends whom I am eternally jealous of because your hair is cooler than mine!

Over the past few weeks there’s been an absolute barrage of new type websites and each of them has left me utterly bamboozled. I have approximately ten thousand tabs open at any one time and, not only that, but the standard of these websites now appears to be at an all time high. Each of them happen to be striking and animated—all appear to be taking inspiration from each other without ever outright stealing each other’s ideas. And so I feel like we’ve entered a new golden age of pairing type and web design together.

Anyway, the first one I want to ramble about is the redesigned Occupant Fonts website as it happens to look like this:

I didn’t notice this at first but each blog post here is designed to act as a type specimen, too. Take this example from June Shin on the difference between designing type and learning about calligraphy:

Or this post by Cyrus Highsmith on type design:

One of my favorite parts of type design is something I think of as transformation—the process a design goes through as it becomes different versions of itself. This includes shifting from a roman to an italic, as well as growing from a light into a bold. There can be transformations that happen across width, as a design expands and contracts. But the most fundamental kind of metamorphosis a typeface goes through has to do with size.

Changing the type with each post is such a smart idea for a blog that I’m furious that no-one has thought of this before. However! The really smart part of this website is that at any time you can toggle Edit mode and with it switch out the typefaces you see on the page like this:

All of this feels extremely website to me; the playfulness and joy in the design, the combination of color and type. It’s some mighty fine work that us web designers should all look at carefully and thief from.

Up next there’s the newly redesigned Signal website, they’re a Dublin-based type foundry with a rather different and subtle approach to highlighting their work:

Their work is striking—they’ve designed a ton of families that I have in my ‘Yikes, let’s make sure to use these type faces in the future’ spreadsheet. And for whatever reason that I find impossible to articular I’m particularly excited to use Center in the near future:

The last website I’d like to point to is the type specimen of Recursive Sans and Mono as it’s one of the most interesting websites I’ve seen in quite some time. However! Before we dig into the site let’s focus on the type: Recursive is a variable font that lets you slide between its Sans and Mono features as you see fit.

And with just a tiny bit of CSS you can subtly control a number of “axes” such as slant, weight, mono, and casual (!):

In general I think a lot of websites like this tend to be quite show-offy. They attempt to pull of the design equivalent of a backflip without exactly explaining how the type family works. But in this case I think the visual and interaction design of the site really helps folks understand how these variable options increase the flexibility of the type itself. And so I highly recommend that you check this out and click about.

These examples remind me that the art of great web design is far from over. There are a lot of folks out there pushing the boundaries of what to expect from a website without it being a slow and annoying buggy mess. These folks, and the many that I didn’t write about here, are on the frontiers of applying graphic design knowledge to the web without it feeling like a callback to a forgotten past.

All of this is so thoroughly exciting and I’m currently taking furious notes for my next web design project.