Liz Stinson (Wired) | Can typography help us empathize with others?

It’s OK if you’re having trouble reading the words in this image. You’re supposed to have trouble reading them.What you’re seeing is Helvetica, or at least part of Helvetica. Daniel Britton, a graphic designer in London, wants you to feel frustrated. He wants you to make your way through the words slowly, to stumble over them, to scratch your head in confusion. He wants you to feel what it’s like being dyslexic.

This is another wonderful example of aligning design and function. However the question posed by the article’s title is misleading. If conception emerges from perception and association, then it is not the physical design of the typography that affects us but how we perceive it and the synthesis of all the things we associate with it. Does the typography involve short, thick, sharp lines in close arrangements? Or tall, thin, rounded lines with few sharp corners? Do we see it regularly used for one type of communication, but never for another? Does it remind of another of other visual cues? Do we engage with the typography in ways that facilitate the process of developing new associations? The affective meaning of a typographic design is sensitive to how we conceptually contextualize it.


Reference

Liz Stinson (Wired) | Can typography help us empathize with others?

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