Service Design for Education Part 4: Typography, Progress and Pressing Pause

This post is part of an independent study project. I am working with two professors on an ongoing research project about service design for education. My role involves developing materials for workshops where full-time, part-time and tenured educators can collaborate on curriculum development. Please start by reading Part 1 first.

This post marks the end of the Service Design for Education part of my independent study. I will share the last steps of my journey including what I did this week, what I have accomplished throughout the entire project and what my next steps are.

What I Did

This week I read The Elements of Typographic Style (EoTS) by Robert Bringhurst to learn how I might improve the design of content on the workshop cards.

I also read EoTS Applied to the Web to learn how these techniques can be applied in the digital space.

Lessons from the Book

“Typography exists to honor content”

This means that the elements of typography can be used to accurately represent the content and meaning of a text, or to disguise a text. For this reason, Bringhust advises typographers to read a text before designing it.

The biggest takeaway I have from the book is that the design of type can alter the way we perceive and understand written content and can invite, confuse or even deter readers depending on the typographer’s choices.

Some other cool things that I learned:

  • One em is a distance equal to the type size, so in 6 point type, an em is 6 points, two em is 12 points and so on
  • Many technical terms such as axis of the stroke, axis of the letter, and aperture: the opening in letters such as a and e
  • “Ragged right” means the paragraph is left-aligned, and vice versa. Setting text ragged right, ragged left or justified can have different impacts on readability
  • How to apply the book’s concepts and techniques to the web through CSS and HTML

Independent Study Progress

Reading EoTS was just one of the many tasks I have worked on so far for this independent study. Here is an overview of what I have accomplished and learned over the past three months:

  • Learned how to use Adobe InDesign, including master pages and data merge tools
  • Grew from having a very basic understanding of Excel to being proficient in formulas, filters and making the data work for me
  • Learned how to use margins, text placement and typography techniques from The Elements of Typographic Style for printed materials
  • Conducted small-scale usability testing with workshop materials to learn how users would interact with the prototypes in real life
  • Created a how-to guide with clear and easy to follow instructions so the workshops can be shared with educators around the world

Last but not least, I learned about systems thinking, understanding all the interconnected parts of a system and how they work together.

Working on this Service Design for Education project helped me both zero in on a specific area of the system by helping design workshop materials for educators, and also understand the larger education system, which includes many moving parts such as students, teachers, administrators, state and national government, university boards and more.

Next Steps

While working on this project, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and has become a pressing issue. For the time being, I will be pausing my work on this Service Design for Education project to focus on design projects related to the pandemic and hope to work on this project again in the future.

Stay tuned for a new series coming soon. Thank you for reading!

Designer and lifelong learner |