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Why Helvetica was a bad font choice for Yosemite

When Apple announced that the next version of OS X, Yosemite was to use Helvetica Neue instead of Lucida Grande, I was disappointed, but not surprised. The inevitable harmonising of OS X and iOS has meant the former taking design cues from the latter more recent system.

Helvetica looks nice in lighter and heavy weights shown large, but for small menus like this I detest it. Lucida Grande may have been missing an italic version, and looked clunky in bold above 14px, but it works well as an interface font. It also had some character, without being in your face. In a small text context, Helvetica is the absence of character, a bland ‘default’. A nothing.

Fast Company interviewed Tobias Frere-Jones, who identifies the problem with Helvetica succinctly:

Despite its grand reputation, Helvetica can’t do everything. It works well in big sizes, but it can be really weak in small sizes. Shapes like ‘C’ and ‘S’ curl back into themselves, leaving tight “apertures”—the channels of white between a letter’s interior and exterior. So each shape halts the eye again and again, rather than ushering it along the line. The lowercase ‘e,’ the most common letter in English and many other languages, takes an especially unobliging form. These and other letters can be a pixel away from being some other letter, and we’re left to deal with flickers of doubt as we read.

Read the full article on Fast Company Design

Opera users: Your UI feedback is wanted!

operaI’m currently working on a strategy on how to take the Opera UI forward, and I’m eager to get your opinions on a particular subject: Native look and feel.

How much does Opera feel like native application on your operating system? How much does it matter to you? Those using Opera on just one platform may want it look utterly native, whereas those using it on multiple platforms might appreciate a consistent ‘family’ look. This is one of the things I’ll be looking at, and striving to find the right balance and approach.

I’m predominantly a OS X user, so I’m particularly looking for (constructive!) feedback from users on other platforms. In the past, I’d always thought that the Mac was the only platform where where Opera looked like it didn’t quite ‘fit’, but I need to be sure!

Please let me your thoughts via this simple form. Thanks in advance for all your help!