This article will help you practice your Dataweave skills in Mulesoft. Here we have to convert the input to a specific type of output. Let’s get started.
This article will help you practice your Dataweave skills in Mulesoft. Here we have to convert the input to a specific type of output. Let’s get started.
By the end of the year, the number of global smartphone users is expected to reach 3.5 billion. That’s a significant 9.3% increase over the last 12 months.
In a world where everyone is constantly connected to their mobile devices, it makes sense that web developers and designers would need to consider new rules for how they create engaging experiences. After all, most of us find browsing from our smartphones to be much more convenient than sitting down at a laptop each day.
With a little luck, you’re already taking steps to mobile optimize your website but standards are changing all the time. To make sure your website is up to scratch, here’s your guide to prioritizing your site for mobile, ready for the new year.
The first step in updating your web design and development principles, is understanding the concept of mobile first design, and how it’s changed.
With a responsive website, you create something that adjusts to the screen size of any device; with a mobile-first site, you’re focusing first-and-foremost on the user experience that people get when they’re on mobile, taking that as your starting point, and building from there. Instead of building your website for the desktop and using mobile as an afterthought, you start with a consideration of mobile.
Even Google is highlighting the demand for this process lately, with the mobile-first indexing algorithm. If you can’t design for mobile-first, then you could risk your clients being unable to rise up the search engine ranks.
So, how do you get started?
Web developers and designers are nothing without a great toolkit.
The good news is that there are solutions out there that can help you to master the right skills for a mobile-focused user experience. For instance, Skeleton is excellent for small-scale projects that require fluid grids and minimal compiling.
With the right tools, you can minimize and prioritize the content that’s most valuable for your website projects. This is crucial for maximizing website speed and creating clarity when it comes to content and imagery.
For instance, check out the ESPN website; it’s split into very easy-to-follow categories of content that are perfect for scrolling on a smartphone. The grid of videos makes it feel like you’re using a tool like YouTube.
Once you have the right tools to assist you, it’s time to begin building your mobile-first website from the ground up. Rather than jumping straight into considerations of the latest design trends, it’s important to start with the foundations.
For instance, navigation within a mobile page is usually hidden under a hamburger button. However, you can take this concept to the next level too. For example, the Shojin mobile website only demonstrates the most important website options within the navigation bar to avoid overwhelming users.
The key here is to keep things as simple as possible, without restricting what your audience can do when they visit your website. Although you want to keep the number of interactive elements on your site small, you also need to ensure that those elements are easy to find and use.
All buttons and CTAs should be clear and tappable. Fonts need to be large enough to read from any screen, and your navigation system needs to be 100% simple, without slowing anything down.
On average, we recommend making all clickable elements at least 48 pixels in height.
Images are a crucial part of any website. They add context and appeal to your design. However, they can also seriously slow down your website if you’re not careful.
Remember, different devices have different demands when it comes to imagery. A desktop page may need a 1200px wide image, while a mobile-only needs the image to be 400px wide at most. The old way of making your images work was to load a large resolution image and use the same file on every platform. Unfortunately, this slows downloading time significantly.
Instead, it’s better to have at least two different versions of the same image for your mobile and desktop solutions. You can also consider SVG.
SVGs are incredibly scalable – more so than bitmaps. With SVG, you can ensure any icon or graphic continues to look sharp and clickable across all devices. Because these files are often smaller, your site loads quicker too! Hubspot is great at using SVGs.
Intricate illustrations are a massive component of HubSpot’s brand. If those images were saved as PNGs or other alternative files, then they would take forever to load. Because they’re all SVGs, you can enjoy the same consistent experience across desktop and mobile.
It’s not just the big graphics and images that make a huge difference to your website when it comes to mobile-first design. You also need to think about the legibility and clarity of your website across all devices and platforms. If people can’t read the value proposition of the company that you’re designing for, you’re going to have a major problem.
Focus on making your content as easy to read as possible. Look into the typefaces that seem most appealing on a range of devices.
Remember to balance the body and heading font sizes for the device size too. You’ll need to ensure that the experience feels consistent and smooth as your users scroll through each page. Just take a look at the mobile version of the IMPACT website, for instance.
The headings aren’t as huge as they are on the desktop version of the website, and they’re displayed below, rather than above the featured image. However, this helps to give a more immediately eye-catching and structured experience to mobile users.
There’s even a handy “Search Engine Optimization” tag included, that users can click on if they want to find more related articles.
When it comes to typography, remember that it’s not just size and clarity that matter, but how things are structured throughout your website too. Your type should naturally guide your visitors along the page.
Finally, on smartphones, you can accomplish a range of amazing things that you might not be able to do when using a desktop device. Your users can make calls, open apps, send messages, and more, all from within their mobile browser. They can also move their smartphone around a room, taking advantage of concepts like AR and VR.
Taking advantage of the unique capabilities that smartphone design can offer gives you a chance to get unique with your user experience.
Making the most of the mobile experience can be much simpler than you’d think. For instance, on a desktop site, you could list your phone number on a contact page. On a mobile site, the number can begin a call when clicked. You can also take the same approach with email addresses, and social media icons too.
Depending on how experimental you feel, there’s also plenty of opportunities to go above and beyond with your mobile features. You may decide to create a mobile app version of a website that your customers can download onto their phones.
Alternatively, you can look into things like AR technology. This could allow your users to practice placing items of furniture that they may be thinking of buying from an online retailer into their house, so they can see how well they work with their other interior design choices.
Ultimately, having a responsive website that works on both mobile and desktop devices is mandatory in the modern world. However, going above and beyond with mobile-first design is a great way to get ahead of the game.
If you can focus on building a website that puts the experiences of mobile users first, then you can create something that’s much more likely to grab audience attention and deliver amazing experiences.
If nothing else, showing your clients that you have what it takes to design for mobile is an excellent way to ensure that you can gain as many new project opportunities as possible.
While doing some work with Kubernetes (K8s) and studying for the CKAD exam, I came across a page on Matthew Palmer’s website entitled “Practice Exam for Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Certification” and which contains five practice questions, which I’ll go over here. If you see a problem with anything I’ve done below, including inefficient solutions, please let me know in the comments.
We will focus on not just showing a possible solution to each problem but also verifying our work.
API test is a significant part of a successful Continuous Integration/ DevOps practice. As per Google Trends, the interest in Web/ API services tests has been progressively growing over the few decades. According to SmartBear research over 3,372 software professionals in API test over 2019, 91 percent of participants either presently have, or thinking to have a formal API test procedure in place in the coming future. Around 45 percent of API testers reported that their company already automated 50% or more of test projects. Moreover, by more than 75 percent of companies across industries, API quality is considered a top priority.
With APIs more and more becoming crucial elements for software development, it has become critically essential for programmers and developers to carry out API testing. API test is a procedure that concentrates on identifying whether an API that has been developed meets up the expected threshold concerning security, reliability, performance, and functionality. As these tests are crucially vital, you need to make use of the top API testing tools out there.
When it comes to compliance, website developers need to keep their eyes on more than just ADA regulations and Section 508. Privacy laws are a big consideration and decisions on how to build privacy into a website start with architects.
And that’s exactly what website developers (and designers!) are. They build up attractive, functional websites and apps for their clients. Yes, they work closely with clients, copywriters, vendors, and other professionals to get the job done, but the developers are the ones who put it all together.
That’s why it’s critical that website developers are well-versed in marketing privacy laws — these regulations directly impact the end results of their work. But how does a website architect create a digital platform that honors both user privacy and the needs of their clients?
The two biggest privacy laws that web developers need to keep tabs on are the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Each law has its own unique scope and provisions, but they both shifted the landscape in defining an individual’s rights to their personal data and set mechanisms for how these rights would be protected and enforced.
Each regulation also carries with it fines, fees, and legal measures for non-compliance. These can be substantial. And if that’s not enough, there’s an ever-increasing consumer demand for websites that prioritize privacy and security. Consider these statistics:
Under GDPR, web developers are required to adopt the Privacy by Design framework, which is a multi-point methodology intended to standardize data protection measures.
Building privacy into websites shouldn’t happen at the end stages. It should start with how the websites are conceptualized in the first place. Here are points to prioritize:
Let’s look at these a little more closely…
Data minimization is an important principle embedded in GDPR. Data minimization itself is a pretty straightforward concept: organizations should limit how much personal data they collect and only process the information necessary to accomplish their business purposes. Once the data is no longer useful, it should be deleted.
For web developers, this means several things. When it comes to building websites, forms, cookies, and other methods should only ask for essential information. For example, if you are creating a pop-up to collect email addresses, don’t ask for their location unless it’s relevant to the email list and better serving their needs.
Let’s say you take data minimization seriously. That’s great! Now you need to put those data collection practices into words and share them with your customers.
CCPA takes a slightly different angle, requiring privacy policies to disclose if the business sells personal data and what third parties have access to the data. CCPA also dictates that privacy policies and notices are current, updated at least annually. (Nota bene: GDPR also asks for updated privacy documents, but doesn’t specify frequency.)
How does this translate from policy into web development?
Part of Privacy by Design is the use of individual components of your website to create transparency and support compliance. From a development and design perspective, this means you should always be looking for ways to communicate the hows and whys of data collection.
Yes, your privacy policies and notices aid in this, but going beyond these pieces is important. Customers recognize when businesses go the extra mile for them, after all.
So consider implementing just-in-time notices at points where users enter their information. These notices are a chance to share your data collection practices with your users. It’s transparent! It’s open! It aids in consumer awareness!
Want to win over your customers? Make it as easy as possible for them to manage their personal data and how it’s being used. This starts with making sure they are aware of why you’re requesting their information and how you’re planning on using it for the website. You should also:
One helpful tool for keeping users in the loop is a marketing preference center. A marketing preference center allows users easy access to their information. From there, they can manage, edit, and delete their information at their discretion.
Bonus? A marketing preference center is an excellent point at which to communicate a business’ commitment to privacy. While users will pick up this through all the discrete elements of privacy on your website, putting it all into one hub that also allows users control over their data really reinforces this message.
Remember, it’s not just on the consumer to manage their data. Web developers should commit to managing the data in their systems. This means they should:
A final point: making your websites user friendly is important regardless of privacy compliance. Users expect websites that don’t make them think deeply about, or worry about, their privacy. Make it accessible and easy. Don’t make people figure it out on their own.
Give them value for sharing their data
Your users don’t have to share their data. They’re choosing to. So in exchange for their personal information, make sure you’re using it to provide a user-friendly website. Offer them a secure, enjoyable experience.
But don’t ask for more than you need
Let’s loop back around to this point again. While consumer data can help you build a better website, don’t plan your websites around it and don’t demand data to create a good experience.
Usability, web design, and website security; all of these things benefit from consumer data. But privacy laws should always guide how any personal data is collected and used, and respect for consumers’ individual rights, and honoring their privacy should be top-of-mind for web developers.
Featured image via Pexels.
I think of a creative practice as a combination of an approach (a design philosophy) and a series of techniques (craft skills); a good tool facilitates a technique, which in turn supports an approach.
It wasn’t until I sat down to write a list of tools I can’t design without, that I realized just how many tools I rely on as an integral part of my creative process. The danger of tools is that they promote certain techniques, and that bias can alter your approach.
First and foremost a good tool does no harm, it does not dictate, or obstruct your approach. Secondly, a good tool offers flexibility in the techniques you choose. Thirdly a good tool is invisible, it leaves no marks on the end product.
If I’d written this post a year ago the list would have been different, and I hope that in a year it will be different again. These are the tools that I currently find enabling, that have contributed to my craft, and supported my approach.
I’ve always used Adobe products. Photoshop and Illustrator were the de facto graphic tools for half my life. I’ve never had an issue with the subscription licensing of Creative Cloud, which I think is proportionate for a professional set of tools. Then, around 18 months ago I got very frustrated with how sluggish Illustrator had become.
I’d written an early review of Affinity Designer, I’d been impressed at the time, so I decided to give it another try expecting the sojourn to last an hour or two before I gravitated back to Illustrator. Running the latest version of Affinity Designer was a revelation, I’ve simply never wanted to switch back.
Why not Sketch? Well, I do occasionally jump into Sketch, especially for pure vector wireframing. I was an early adopter of Sketch, but the reliability issues (long since resolved) poisoned my relationship with it. Why not Figma? Well, Figma’s real strength is in collaboration, something that I get with Sketch, and personally I find some of Figma’s features unintuitive.
Affinity Designer isn‘t perfect. I dislike the color tools, especially the gradient tool, which I find clunky. But it’s the first design app I’ve used in years that syncs closely with my creative process.
I don’t do a lot of photo manipulation, so when I switched away from Creative Cloud for design work, I was relaxed about switching from Photoshop to Affinity Photo.
In my experience, Affinity Photo is stronger than Photoshop in some areas, and weaker in others. Affinity Photo’s bitmap scaling is much better than Photoshop’s, largely due to Lanczos 3 sampling.
Affinity Photo also solves a lot of little irritations that Adobe has chosen not to address for legacy or philosophical reasons, such as the toggleable ratio setting when resizing the canvas — I’ve lost track of the hours I’ve spent in Photoshop manually calculating vertical whitespace so that it’s proportionate to the horizontal.
Both Affinity Photo and Photoshop are poor at web format optimizations. Photoshop perhaps has the edge, but its output certainly isn’t acceptable for production.
I run bitmaps through TinyPng, which on average halves the size of the file without any appreciable loss of quality. (It stripped 66% off the images for this post.)
When I started to drift away from Creative Cloud, the one service that delayed me was Adobe Fonts (née Typekit). Not so much for the webfonts — which are faster and more reliable self-hosted — but for the ability to sync desktop fonts into my design apps.
I tried Fontstand when it was first released, and I loved the concept, but was worried about the small library. When I took a second look and discovered the library is now substantial for both workhorses and experimental typefaces, it was an easy decision to switch.
Fontstand is a desktop font rental service. Once you’ve found a typeface you’re interested in, you can activate an hour-long trial, then choose to rent the font for a small fee. You can auto-renew the rental if you need to, and if you rent the font for 12 months it’s yours forever.
If there’s one tool on this list I genuinely could not design without it’s this one. Fontstand makes working with fonts from independent foundries affordable for freelancers, and it’s enriched the typographic palette available to me.
Every designer has strengths and weaknesses. Since day one of art school, my weakness has been color. It just doesn’t come naturally to me, and I have to work quite hard at it.
An incredibly helpful tool that I’ve been using for a few months is Khroma. It helps my eyes warm up before approaching color, and helps me find a starting point that I can then refine. Comparing my design work before, and after Khroma, the latter color choices are cleaner, more vibrant, and more interesting.
A good code editor is essential, and I’ve never found one that I’m completely happy with. For years I’ve flitted back and forth between Brackets, Sublime Text, and BBEdit. I think that probably reflects the changes in the type of coding I’m doing.
For now, I’ve settled on Atom. It’s fast, reliable, and it’s not biased to front or back-end code.
MAMP is a tool that allows you to run a local server environment, meaning I can run PHP and MySQL without the tedious process of FTPing to a server to test a change. Mac comes with Apache, so this isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s simple to use and works well with both CodeKit and Craft (see below).
There’s a pro version of MAMP, which allows you to switch seamlessly between projects, but it’s heavily geared towards WordPress. I’m still trying to find the time to evaluate Laravel Valet.
When you first start coding you try and memorize the entire language. It’s very possible to become fluent in the core of a language, but there are always nuances, defaults, and gotchas that you miss. As you grow more experienced, you realize that all professional coders Google the answer at least once per day.
When I got tired of Googling I started using Dash which is a superb app that combines the docs of numerous different languages into a searchable window. I use it daily for everything from SVG to Twig.
It doesn’t really matter what you’re building, even the indy-web needs to be tested. Ideally you’ll test on real devices, but if you can’t afford a device library — and who but the largest agencies can — you need a live testing solution.
There are a few upstarts, but your choice is basically between BrowserStack and LambdaTest. I went for LambdaTest because I prefer the style of the UI, but that’s entirely subjective. If you’re not sure, toss a coin, you’ll get the same results with both.
I can’t write CSS without Sass — and I mean that literally. If I try and write vanilla CSS I guarantee I’ll nest something with @at-root and it will throw an error.
Stating any preference for a CMS online that is not WordPress inevitably invites impassioned protests from developers whose career is built on the WordPress platform. So let me say preface this by saying: if WordPress works for you, and more importantly for your clients, then more power to you; I think it’s a dog.
Shopping around for a CMS is challenging, and I’ve gone through the process several times. A good CMS needs to be in sync with your mindset, and it needs to be appropriate for your clients — all of them, because unless you’re in a large agency with multiple coders, you need to commit to a single solution in order to master it.
I have looked and looked, and finally settled on Craft CMS. Craft makes it easy to build and maintain complex, high-performance sites. It has a shallow learning curve that grows exponentially steeper, making it easy to get started with plenty of room to grow.
As editor at WDD, I cannot emphasize enough that the right way to write copy for the web is markdown.
Markdown is faster to write so you don’t lose the thread of your thought process, and it doesn’t impose formatting so you can easily migrate to a CMS. If you’ve ever spent 20 minutes stripping the class, id, and style tags out of a file created in Word, Pages, or (by far the worst offender) Google Docs, then you don’t need to be sold on this point.
There are a few markdown-based writing apps available, I tested half a dozen, and the one I settled on was Ulysses. I like its distraction-free mode, I love its clean exports. Everything I write, I write in Ulysses.
Much like markdown editors, there’s no shortage of screenshot apps. My current favorite is Screenshot Plus.
Screenshot Plus has one feature that makes it standout for me, and that is its Workflows. It sounds like a small problem, but when you’re taking screenshots of a dozen sites, the extra clicks to save, switch to your editor, and open the file are laborious. I have several workflows setup in Screenshot Plus that allow me to take a screenshot, save it to a specified folder on my local machine, and then open it in Affinity Photo, all with a single click.
I get a lot of email, a lot. At one point the influx was so bad I was using multiple email apps to segment it. Yes, I use Slack daily, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for email.
I‘ve been using Spark for around six months and it’s radically sped up my workflow. I’m a big fan of the smart inbox that allows me to compartmentalize email like newsletters, and email that warrants a reply. I like that I can switch to a chronological list if I’m looking for something specific. I love the ability to pin, or snooze messages, which helps me triage my inbox.
I’m one of those people who can’t make it through the day without being organized. I need lists and sublists, and I need something native that opens automatically when I boot my Mac, and something that sits on the home screen of my Android.
There are as many to-do apps as there are things to do. When I’m working in a team I’ll use whichever task-tracking system it prefers. But by choice I always use Todoist thanks to its balance of simplicity and power. At this point it’s something of a meta-tool, and the app I open first every morning.
Contentful; Webster’s Dictionary defines “contentful” as… not found. Clearly someone made up this word, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
The world of user experience metrics is moving quickly, so new terminology is needed. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is one of a number of metrics measuring the render time of content on a web page.
Google defines LCP as “the render time of the largest content element visible within the viewport.” For what we are talking about in this blog, we will consider “content” to be an image, typically a JPEG or PNG file. In most cases, “largest” points to a hero image that is “above the fold” and is one of the first images people will notice when loading the page. Applying optimization to this largest content is critical to improving LCP.
It is probably more instructive to view LCP relative to other metrics. For example, First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Visually Complete book end LCP.
Each metric has its pros and cons, but LCP is a happy medium. LCP marks when web page loading starts to have a substantial impact on user experience.
In Google’s opinion, to provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. Poor values are anything greater than 4 seconds.
LCP is now part of several “Core Web Vitals” scores that Google will measure in its ranking algorithm. Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.
In the case of the overall Google Lighthouse score, LCP represents 25% weighting on the performance score of Lighthouse version 6.0. This makes LCP the most important Core Web Vitals metric in determining the performance score.
While Google has indicated that content is still the most important factor in SEO ranking, a better user experience (as measured by Core Web Vitals) will generate higher rankings in a crowded field. If there are many websites competing for the top search engine spots, then Largest Contentful Paint will play a critical factor in rankings.
Now that you know that LCP is important, what can you do to improve it by making content load faster? Google provides a number of suggestions, but the most effective technique is to optimize content for the device requesting it.
For example, a website includes an 800kb JPEG image that is intended for high resolution desktops. On a smartphone, that would be optimized down to less than 100kb, with no perceptible impact on quality. LCP can improve by more than 60% — or several seconds — through this single optimization.
Image Speed Test is a great tool offered by ImageEngine.io that provides an analysis of LCP improvement opportunities. Just paste in the URL of the web page you are interested in optimizing, and the test will show you:
It also provides a video of the web page loading with and without optimizations. Finally, it analyses each image to provide an estimate of payload savings. In this case, the “largest content” on the page is this image. With optimizations, the image payload is reduced by 94%. That delivers a huge improvement in LCP.
ImageEngine is an image content delivery network (CDN) service that makes image optimization simple. Basically, for each image on the page, the image CDN will:
In addition to using an image CDN like ImageEngine, a few other best practices can improve LCP. Using the resource hints to provide a preconnect for your content can streamline the download process.
For example, putting the following link statement in the HTML will accelerate the download process. The link statement will make the browser connect to the third party as early as possible so that download can start sooner. ImageEngine’s optimizations make each image download smaller and faster, but preconnect save time in the connection phase.
When looking to improve the LCP specifically, there are some practices worth looking into more deeply.
It is not an easy task, but if the browser can avoid making a request to get the CSS needed to render the critical part of the page – usually the “above the fold” part – the LCP is likely to occur earlier. Also you will avoid content shifting around and maybe even a Flash of Unstyled Content (FOUC).
The critical CSS — the CSS needed by the browser to set up the structure and important styles of the part of the page shown above the fold — should in-inlined. This inlined CSS may also refer to background images, which of course should also be served by an Image CDN.
[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of ImageEngine –]
Most of the information we consume happens through reading, so it makes a lot of sense to pay attention to the words when designing. There are many aspects to typography, but one of the things that helped improve the quality of my design was letter-spacing.
Letter-spacing is about adding and removing space between letters. Some people confuse it with kerning, but these two are different; letter-spacing affects the whole line of text, whereas kerning adjusts the space between two individual letters at the time. Kerning is best left to type designers, besides which, unlike letter-spacing there is currently no way to control kerning in CSS.
I believe that practice and a lot of observation will change the way you treat letter-spacing in your work as well.
The main purpose of letter-spacing is to improve the legibility and readability of the text. Words act differently depending on their size, color, and the background they are on. By adjusting letter-spacing to the environment you are working with you will help readers consume your information faster, and more efficiently. The fun part is that they won’t even notice it — that’s the whole point of the job.
Bear in mind that typographers think about letter-spacing and kerning when designing a typeface. It means you don’t have to apply it to all your text, but in order to have an understanding when it’s necessary, you should know some basic principles, and use good typefaces.
The legibility and readability of your text depend on things like line-height, paragraph length, font size, typeface choice, letter-spacing, and much more. Regarding letter-spacing, if you are just getting into typography, the best thing you can do is not overuse it. What I mean by that is simply don’t make the distance between letters too big or too small; even if you think it looks good, people will struggle reading it, and that will ruin their experience.
Capital letters are designed with the intention that they will appear at the beginning of a sentence or proper noun, in combination with lowercase letters. When capital letters are next to each other, the space between them is too tight. So in order to achieve better readability, space needs to be increased. This applies to both large and small font sizes.
If you are using well designed fonts, you can be sure that they are calibrated well, and you won’t need to make any major adjustments to them. However, the problem with headlines is that at larger scales the space between letters looks unbalanced. It can be fixed by increasing or decreasing the letter-spacing value.
There are no strict rules for letter-spacing — there are a lot of typefaces and all of them require an individual approach — but if you look at how big companies like Google and Apple treat their typefaces, you can find a lot of valuable information there.
Let’s take a look at the “Roboto” and “San Francisco” typefaces (the first one is used in Material Design and the second one in Apple’s ecosystem). Headlines from 20 to 48 pixels have either a positive letter-spacing value or none. If the font size is bigger, letter-spacing becomes negative. These exact numbers are not going to work that well for other typefaces, but after trying different approaches I can state that it’s a common pattern.
I’ve tested several guidelines for letter-spacing and the one that was published by Bazen Agency works for a lot of popular typefaces. It will be a good starting point for you, but you can always apply additional adjustments:
If you happen to design a lot of apps or you’re planning to do that, one thing that helps me is using the default Material Design and Apple guidelines for their typefaces. They are well balanced and it saves a lot of time.
If you ever read anything about letter-spacing, you’ve probably have seen this popular wisdom from typographer Frederic Goudy: “Anyone who would letter-space lowercase would steal sheep”. (There’s an argument that he was only referring to blackletter fonts.) Some designers took it as a hard rule and now never adjust the letter-spacing of lowercase text.
Based on my practice and by looking at the work of designers I can’t agree with Goudy, because sometimes small changes can make a big difference in how your text performs. Let’s take, for example, condensed fonts. At a small size, the letters are too close to each other, which leads to poor legibility. By increasing letter-spacing by 1.5% you will see that the text is now easier to read.
If we look at my previous example, in the guidelines for “Roboto” and “San Francisco” typefaces, letter-spacing is applied to body text; even though San Francisco has a dedicated “SF Pro Display” for headlines and “SF Pro Text” for body text, letter-spacing is still used to refine them.
There are a lot of different typefaces and a single rule doesn’t apply to all of them. Experiment with letter-spacing and do what seems right to you. There are some simple guidelines that will lead you in the right direction, especially when working with body text:
If you have a line-height greater than 120%, most likely negative letter-spacing will lead to an unbalanced look to the paragraph. To refine it you would need to either keep it at 0% or only slightly increase it.
On a dark background, white text looks overexposed and therefore letters appear too tight. To make it more legible, I would suggest you increasing letter-spacing a small amount.
You can use the following guidelines for body text, which I have tested with several typefaces:
Unlike headlines and body text, smaller font sizes don’t have many variations in letter-spacing. It’s a common practice when a font size is lower than 13px to increase the space between letters to make it legible. But there are always exceptions (“SF Pro Text” guidelines suggest using positive letter-spacing only when a font size is 11px or below). Make sure you experiment with settings.
You can use the following values as a starting point and then edit them to what seems right to the typeface of your choice:
One of the things that helped me improve my skills in typography was looking at other designers and especially type foundries. By decoding their work you might notice some nuances of how they treat typography and it will help you in future projects.
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