Made by Fred has been under construction for a few weeks now. During this time, I’ve been experimenting with the design. While a few core ideas have remained unchanged, the general look and feel has gone through many iterations already. I skipped the Photoshop stage and dove right into editing CSS. The only reference I used were a few sketches in my notebook.
As a big Instapaper fan, I’ve been really focusing on content and clear presentation. It’s a misconception that the current readability trend is at odds with graphic and web design. It’s not about less design, it’s about using the design to present the content in the best way possible. Made by Fred is not entirely there yet, it’s a work in progress and to some extent that will always be the case.
Readability and clear presentation go hand in hand with typography and font rendering. There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to web typography. CSS3 gives us more options but we’re not quite there yet. My computer screen is nice and bright, but it doesn’t even come close to rendering fonts as well as my e-reader (which is in turn a far cry from a well printed book). Leaving hardware out of the equation, there’s the issue of font rendering differences between browsers. I mostly use Firefox, Safari or Chrome on OS X, but some of my time is spent on Firefox or Internet Explorer on Windows 7. Windows 7 is a solid OS, but the font rendering is downright pathetic. I hardly ever use Ubuntu, but I love how well it renders fonts! The trouble is, while fonts might looks great on Mac OS X or Ubuntu, most people still use Windows so you’ll have to pick fonts accordingly.
Typography is just one aspect of design, but it really affects the look and feel of a web site. While the above mentioned issues can make the process of selecting the right font a little frustrating at times, it’s well worth spending some time on.
Made by Fred is not entirely ready for prime time at this point. But since I strongly believe that ‘if you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long’, it’s online anyway. Things will continue to change and hopefully improve, but in the meantime Made by Fred is available for you to enjoy. Feedback is welcome even if the comments section isn’t entirely finished yet!