Fine-Tuning Type

18 June 2015
With the forthcoming resurrection of Barley, we’re looking at ways we can tighten up our various interfaces to make the experience much more cohesive. With this in mind, and in the spirit of our v2.0 design mission of simplification, we’re testing out a new font in our Site Bar. 

We previously used a pair of fonts, each of which carried certain limitations. We used a all-capital version of Montserrat for titles and headings and Muli for copy. Because of a number of tight spaces within Barley menus and messages, we wanted a typeface that had a high x-height and extremely open apertures/counters to maximize legibility at smaller sizes. But, Montserrat was only available in weights too thick for passages of text (we thought) and Muli lacked a true bold weight. We made due.

While Montserrat is available as a google web font, they only offer two weights. On fontsquirrel.com, a full set of weights are available. This gave us the opportunity to whittle down our font dependency to two instead of three (we also have an icon font, more on that in a future post). Much better, but there were are a few random characters in Montserrat with which we were not completely satisfied. While we’re making this change, we might as well clean those up, right?



We added in just a few small customizations to help the font read better in the contexts we’re using it without really altering its style—namely the capital G, Q and J, the lowercase a and a few numerals, most notably the 7. What we’re left with is a more readable version, in the weights we’re looking for. 

We may switch to a premium typeface someday, but for now this is a great option. We’ll continue to monitor how this update is working and received by users and how we can further improve the type in Barley as a whole, but so far, so good.


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