VRT NWS – on type

August 24, 2017

The rebranded “De Redactie” – now called VRT NWS — was launched a few days ago.

What stood out to me the first time I visited the site was the choice of type. To me, it seemed the tracking was off. Things seemed to be extremely tight.

Some reading on Twitter and I learned that the used font is called Forma DJR.

On Forma’s website, the makers state:

One of Forma’s most distinguishing features is its letter spacing, or rather its total lack thereof. Following the razor-thin sidebearings of the metal original, Forma is spaced in true late-60s/early-70s fashion, favoring “tight but not touching” letterforms over evenly balanced white shapes.

The tight-but-not-touching technique is extremely sensitive to size: what looks perfect at 100pt is virtually illegible at 10pt. To account for this, each of Forma DJR’s five weights also comes in five optical sizes, ranging from Banner (for 72pt and above) to Micro (for 8pt and below). Within each size range, the spacing of each variant is tuned to walk that fine line between retro and ridiculous.

The 5 optical sizes are Micro, Text, Deck, Display and Banner. On the VRT NWS site, the headings seem to be using “Display”, and the regular body text seems to be using “Text”.

In my opinion, this is not a great type choice for reading on the web.

Maybe I’ll get used to it, but I’ll probably write a user style to aid my reading, maybe just using Apple’s San Francisco font.

4 Comments

  • Roel Van Gils says:

    Hooray for Reader mode in Safari. You only realize how unreadable the font is until you enable Reader mode :)

  • Erwin Heiser says:

    Agreed, nice chunky type but the font choice is indeed a bad one. And the main header just looks sloppy and unfinished.

  • I like:
    – that they at least try something novel in an otherwise boring Belgian newswebsite landscape.
    – the focused reading experience on an article detail, letting the content ‘breathe’

    I dislike:
    – the font indeed
    – the simplification of the homepage, hiding sections behind a button (**** u Google with your obsession with bringing hamburgers to desktop websites) // bad UX + news overviews can be more information-dense than regular websites, the whole point of the frontpage is a scannable news overview

  • Bert says:

    Overall I do like the new design.

    The main improvements:

    – OMG!!! An article that can be read in peace. That whitespace is a gift from god, or a designer that has acomplished the impossible :)
    – “net binnen” => Great way to not have to scan the entire front page for new articles
    – Use of Emoji!

    Annoynaces:

    – The ticker on the top
    – The Cards on the front page are difficult to distinguish from one an other, especially the ones without an image. Somehow the whitepasece between the last line of the title, and the “time” at the botton confuses me
    – English version is not up to date!
    – Emoji!

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