US road signs ditch new font for old

image by CountyLemonade on Twitter

The Verge reports on changes to road signs in the USA:

Unless you’re a typography buff, you might not have noticed the new font that’s been popping up on highway signs over the past decade. It’s called Clearview and it’s been around since 2004. For much of its life, researchers (including its designer, Meeker & Associates) believed the font could provide for better legibility at night and at longer distances. But, it turns out, later research has not backed up this initial belief. It turns out that all that research suggesting the new font might be more legible was more due to the fact that older, worn signs were being replaced with nice, fresh, clean signs which were, naturally, more legible. Clearview also made legibility worse on signs with what’s called negative-contrast color orientations — dark letters on light backgrounds — like speed limit or yellow warning signs. As such, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is killing off Clearview after 12 years, and all new highway signs again be labeled in Highway Gothic, the old standard font.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how simple things like roadsigns can make you feel at home, or far from it. When I visited Limerick in the Republic of Ireland about ten years ago, almost everything made me feel like I was still in the UK. The only thing that made me think ‘I’m in a foreign country’ were the road signs and road markings which were almost – but ever so slightly not – the same as in Britain.

And of course we always think our own approach to these things is the best. Which in the case of British roadsigns is, of course, entirely true…

Elderly crossing sign UK

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The graphic and furniture design of Robin Day

Better known for designing the seating for the Royal Festival Hall in 1951 and his invention of the polypropylene stacking chair in 1963, Robin Day OBE was also an accomplished graphic designer. A self-taught one at that: “Though my father had no formal training in graphics,” says Day’s daughter Paula, “from an early age he showed a talent for drawing, and taught himself the necessary typographic skills.” This “sensitive use of typography” became a central feature of Day’s work, much of which was for the Central Office of Information. The London Design Festival celebrates the designer’s centenary with a series of events, including the Works in Wood exhibition at the V&A until 27 September.

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UI, UX: Who Does What? A Designer’s Guide To The Tech Industry | Co.Design | business + design

Design is a rather broad and vague term. When someone says “I’m a designer,” it is not immediately clear what they actually do day to day. There are a number of different responsibilities encompassed by the umbrella term designer.

Design-related roles exist in a range of areas from industrial design (cars, furniture) to print (magazines, other publications) to tech (websites, mobile apps). With the relatively recent influx of tech companies focused on creating interfaces for screens, many new design roles have emerged. Job titles like UX or UI designer are confusing to the uninitiated and unfamiliar even to designers who come from other industries.

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Masters of the Small Canvas: icon designers

Ever since Susan Kare’s 8-bit designs graced the first Macintosh screens in 1984, icon design, like digital typography, has been an important if unglamorous niche in the software business. The 2008 debut of Apple’s App Store created “a sea change in our industry,” says Gedeon Maheux, co-founder of Iconfactory, a large design studio in Greensboro, N.C., that does work for big brands such as Windows and Twitter. “It gave us job security.” A decade ago, one of Iconfactory’s principal designers specialized in mimicking the large-format, heavily detailed visual style of Aqua, Apple’s name for the user interface on its Mac OS X operating system. (Aqua’s environment was designed to conjure water, from bubbles to the way light is refracted undersea. “We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them,” Steve Jobs told an interviewer.) Now Iconfactory also designs custom emojis the size of cookie crumbs. Icons and glyphs—the term for symbols that blur the line between typography and pictograms, such as the triangular “play” button on online videos—must be drawn for every screen size that Silicon Valley produces, from 5K resolution monitors to smart appliances and wearables. Designers such as Maheux and Mantia, who also was at the Iconfactory before starting Parakeet, are the ones doing that work.

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What graphic designers think about the Google logo

Google’s seen a lot of changes recently, and the latest came yesterday, when the tech company surprised everyone with their new logo. In one of the biggest changes since 1999, Google’s new logo uses a simpler sans-serif typeface. The new logo had to work well in constrained spaces and maintain consistency across many products, the company explained in a blog post. Many iterations of the new logo ended up on the cutting room floor. So how did Google do? We picked the brains of some graphic and type designers to see what they thought.

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‘All Websites Look the Same’

When was the last time you saw a website that didn’t have a huge image fitting to the screen with some giant text overlaid on it? Scroll down a little and you’ll be greeted with either another full width panel, this time a solid colour with centred text sat in it, or a bank of 3 columns with icons sat above them. Websites are all blending into one.

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Designers Tackle George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words

Have you ever wondered how famed Mac designer Susan Kare might go about designing a pair of pixel art tits, or how ornery ad legend Milton Glaser might handle a design brief that simply read “cocksucker?” Now you can find out, thanks to a new booster pack for the popular party game Cards Against Humanity, featuring original designs by Glaser, Kare, Debbie Milman, Paula Scher, Erik Spiekermann, and 25 more world famous designers.

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MoMA Recognizes Susan Kare

Kare designed all of her early icons on graph paper, with one square representing each pixel, and it is this archive of sheets that MoMA has acquired jointly with San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. Although some of the designs she came up with as a contractor for Apple during the development of the first Mac aren’t well remembered (*ahem* Mr. Macintosh), it’s amazing how much of her visual iconography did stick manage to stick around.

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