When I launched The Brooks Review I used three fonts: Georgia, Verdana, and Helvetica. Georgia, believe it or not, was the body font for the site. I hate reading sites set in Helvetica for the body — it’s not a comfortable font to read. When I signed up for Typekit, I switched this site to FF Meta. From that point forward almost every element of the site was set in some variation of FF Meta — I even bought more weights to tweak the design just a year ago.
I had no intention to change anything with the design.
Then H&FJ launched their cloud font service. I love H&FJ fonts, specifically none of the fonts that I am using on this site, but I love their work. They have a clear passion for readable letter forms.
I signed up just to play with the service and to see how it compared to Typekit. I loved it. I started playing with fonts, and as much as I tried to resist changing anything — I couldn’t help myself.
Because the thing is, Ideal Sans (what this body is set it right now) is one hell of a readable typeface. It feels really good to read for long periods. It’s comfortable, and yet has personality. When I set the headlines in Forza things just clicked. I had it, I just needed to refine it.
I figured I might do the refresh in a couple of weeks, but then I looked at the old homepage with FF Meta. It looked so drab I just made the switch. I think I have everything looking and working great (I even figured out that annoying bug where the underlines weren’t showing up on links on your iPhone).
While I love the legibility of Ideal Sans, it felt too heavy at the size that Meta was set in — so I had to shrink it down on the Mac and push it up on the iPhone. I think I found a good balance, but I’ll let you be the judge. The thing I like most about Ideal Sans is the italics — Ideal Sans just looks gorgeous in italics.
I think most agree that Ideal Sans is a great typeface.
Forza on the other hand is a little bit more, shall we say, mixed. I’ve always liked the typeface, but never thought of using it. I went back and forth between a lot of options and settled on Forza because:
- I love the contrast of the block-monotonous feeling of Forza against the more casual Ideal Sans.
- For as monotonous as Forza looks, it has quite a bit of personality if used in spurts and not for everything.
It is my thinking, then, that Ideal Sans offers the personality of the site, while Forza offers the structure. Initially Forza was the default for Quotes of the Day, and for Headlines, but some weren’t pleased. I liked it, but then I loaded up the site one day and realized I was already bored with that look. So Forza is now the menu elements of the site, and Ideal is almost everything else.
We’ll see if this combination can outlast FF Meta’s run.