New Font

The new font used throughout the new theme is Source Sans Pro.

The font was chosen because of it’s similarity to CSU’s official brand font - Helvetica. While Helvetica works well in a marketing environment where material is centrally created it doesn’t work well as a web font having been developed primarily for print. It is also incredibly challenging to work with a font like this online which often depends on users installation of font or for them to be delivered by a webservice.

To negate some of these issues we decided to use Source Sans Pro, Adobe’s first open source typeface family. The font is available to download by anyone because it is open source and is available through Google Fonts - both as a download or as a web embed. The font can also be hosted by CSU and included in the theme files.

Adobe Source Sans Pro

The font is very close to Helvetica is shape forms, comes in a variety of weights and language types. It also can be paired well with other fonts and has a serif sibling Source Serif Pro that it can be paired with.

Responsive type

With the introduction of Responsive Design Elements a lot of consideration has gone into the design of the typography. The focus of these changes has been to improve the readability of the text in Blackboard - and to do it across screen sizes. The article Your Body Text Is Too Small - Why website body text should be bigger, and ways to optimize it. provides a good overview of the approach taken and the reasons why.

One of the key parts of the new style in Blackboard (Interact2) is the to introduce responsive type - meaning that the font size changes depending on the size of the browser window. This is aimed at improving the readability of content across devices. For small screens the font is smaller and as the screen size gets the font scales up to suit. This is based on the fact that screens are viewed at different distances from the eyes - small handheld screens are held close - large screens have more distance away from the eyes.

This will cause additional scrolling for many users - but current research suggests that this simply isn’t the problem it once was or that people really do scroll.