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Systematized hierarchy

From: Foundations of Typography

Video: Systematized hierarchy

Just like any system, typographic hierarchy can guide the viewer to make navigation easier, whether on screen, on the printed page, or in the physical environment. Systematized hierarchy provides a predictable structure based on grid, typographic usage, and of course imagery. The Cooper Union, a College for art, architecture, and engineering in New York City has a website that provides just such a structure. There are many consistent elements which provide a sense of place that is unchanging.

Systematized hierarchy

Just like any system, typographic hierarchy can guide the viewer to make navigation easier, whether on screen, on the printed page, or in the physical environment. Systematized hierarchy provides a predictable structure based on grid, typographic usage, and of course imagery. The Cooper Union, a College for art, architecture, and engineering in New York City has a website that provides just such a structure. There are many consistent elements which provide a sense of place that is unchanging.

First and foremost, the logo remains in its place no matter where the viewer navigates. The top navigation bar, including the search bar is the first level of navigation. The secondary nav bar starting with ACADEMICS provides another means of navigation. And the panel on the left under the logo provides yet another means of accessing information. Throughout it all the center panel stays in position and the typography and imagery are fixed within that center panel.

In that panel, headlines are always the same size, the same font, the same color, the same weight. The scale of the typography is consistent throughout the site. You're in a predictable structure, always anchored by the logo, the dominant element. If you scroll to the bottom of the site there is visual relief in the form of a charming animated infographic. And at the very bottom there is another opportunity to navigate using the links in the site map. Traveling throughout this site, you never feel displaced, you never feel uncomfortable, you always know where you are.

The main tourist attraction in Rockefeller Center is Top of the Rock, which provides 360 degree views of New York City from the observation deck of its tallest building. The graphic identity of this landmark also represents strong and elegant systematized hierarchy. The typography in its logo forms a square, which says TOP OF THE ROCK. The four panel photo grid structure is based on the concept that no matter whether you look east, west, north, or south, at any time of day and any season of the year, the view is spectacular.

In this busy tourist destination the design for TOP OF THE ROCK has a strong presence. The catchphrase or tagline, ANY POINT OF VIEW is a wonderful typographic pun, because NY is part of the word ANY, so you have any point of view, and it's also a New York point of view. That tagline works in multiple settings, it's expressed in three stacked lines on vertical banners. The same tagline is expressed across the entire side of a bus, in two centered lines in this city guide, and a single line in this full-page ad.

In each of these examples, the four vertical images are all New York points of view. Although each photograph is different, sunset, dawn, midnight, different seasons, everything is held together because of the strong container of the grid. The consistency of the four column photograph mirrors the consistency of the typography, it's a beautiful thing. To recap, the goal of systematized hierarchy is to provide a consistent structure designed to help navigation in any environment.

Different projects may have specific challenges of visibility, readability, and navigability, but the guiding principles are the same in each case. You are making the decisions for your viewers in advance and leading them gently down the proverbial garden path.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Typography
Foundations of Typography

46 video lessons · 31598 viewers

Ina Saltz
Author

 
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  1. 9m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. Why good typography matters
      1m 55s
    3. The power of type
      1m 53s
    4. The theory of typographic relativity
      1m 53s
    5. Getting the most out of this course
      1m 26s
  2. 23m 49s
    1. Serif vs. sans serif
      3m 27s
    2. Display type vs. text type
      3m 39s
    3. Type history
      2m 48s
    4. Type classification
      4m 8s
    5. Other type categories
      3m 24s
    6. Guidelines for combining typefaces
      3m 49s
    7. Using cases
      2m 34s
  3. 18m 28s
    1. Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type
      4m 35s
    2. Size and measurements of type
      2m 18s
    3. Type families: Widths, weights, and slopes
      3m 53s
    4. Reviewing the terminology of type, based on function
      3m 27s
    5. Working with color and tonal weight: Exercises
      4m 15s
  4. 20m 27s
    1. Kerning and kerning pairs
      3m 33s
    2. Tracking and leading
      3m 49s
    3. Exploring variations in type alignment
      3m 55s
    4. Hyphenation and justification
      3m 13s
    5. Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation
      2m 26s
    6. Other typographic best practices
      3m 31s
  5. 10m 3s
    1. Where type begins: The mark of the hand
      2m 28s
    2. Related parts and shapes: Family resemblances
      4m 35s
    3. Designing a typeface
      3m 0s
  6. 22m 19s
    1. How legibility and readability differ
      3m 48s
    2. Examining factors affecting legibility
      4m 46s
    3. Hierarchy and functionality
      4m 29s
    4. Systematized hierarchy
      3m 52s
    5. Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points
      2m 41s
    6. Typographic abominations
      2m 43s
  7. 11m 8s
    1. Opposing forces of typography
      3m 8s
    2. The grid: A structure for containing type
      3m 6s
    3. Contrast and scale
      4m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Typographic expressiveness
      3m 22s
    2. The emotional impact of type
      2m 47s
    3. Three-dimensional type
      3m 32s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Working with numbers
      2m 10s
    2. Expert characters and analphabetic symbols
      1m 56s
    3. Using typography to navigate content
      1m 51s
    4. Using typography to navigate the environment
      2m 58s
  10. 9m 14s
    1. Managing fonts and building your type library
      3m 14s
    2. Developing your typographic eye
      2m 31s
    3. Breaking the rules
      1m 41s
    4. What's next
      1m 48s

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