GBT: The original UX Designers and the Fonts they didn't Use

The Good

Thanks to what happened back in 1970, now five and a half million people can make it to their jobs every day! What are we talking about? Well, the good this week is about the New York Subway Maps System.   

Back in the 70's, the New York City subway was a mess and in order to move from point A to point B without getting lost, required some divine intervention. 

Designers Noorda and Massimo Vignelli are responsible for creating one of the most iconic and recognized visual systems of the 21st century! 

New York Subway Map

They didn’t just design signs, they designed a system. They rethought the way people used the subways and turned their concept into a system that is admired by designers everywhere and is the backbone for many other subways around the world. They gave the system its sans-serif typeface (the sign-makers could not yet print Helvetica, so they settled initially for Standard Medium), a clean, easy to read font.

Vignelli and Noordis’ design was not merely intended to look good — which it does — but to simplify navigation of the subway for the passenger. They upheld another design principle: you must be able to use it. The original UX designers!

The Bad

Speaking of fonts, let's talk about BAD fonts you shouldn't be using. To me, the top of the list is held by Calibri. I honestly believe this is one of the ugliest fonts ever invented by humankind, I hold it up there with other design fails such the infamous Comic Sans MS. 

Using Calibri for a presentation or a document speaks almost too much about you, especially if you call yourself a designer. It tells us that you didn’t bother to find a better font for your doc, or even worse, that you thought it looked good.

Other fonts along those lines, Lobster, Brush Script, Papyrus, Bradley Hand and, God forbid, Lucida Handwriting.

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 16.00.23.png

The Tip

So the tip is obviously around fonts you CAN use, and better yet, for FREE! Here are three of our favorite picks:

1) Open Sans, by Google. A simple Sans-serif font that adapts as its being integrated on websites all over the world. I’m sure you have recognized it.

2) Alégre Sans is a beautiful, sans-serif capitalized font that we find particularly attractive for headers. It's like a beautiful version of IMPACT, but still... impactful.

3) Raleway is another Google Font; this one represents a great free alternative to Helvetica Ultralight. It was designed originally as a lightweight typeface and later evolved to add new, bolder variants.

Open Sans in Slidebean

Full Video: