Choosing fonts for your next project

Choosing fonts for your project can be a challenge. How do you pick fonts that work? The fonts that you choose can either help or distract your users. You want to pick fonts that are easy to read and fit the personality or mood you want to convey.

Choosing fonts for your next project
Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Where do you start?

Pick fonts that match the purpose of your design
Whether you are creating a blog, tutorial, app or business website, you need to pick fonts that match the mood or personality of the project. Fonts can have distinct personalities or moods — casual, serious, playful or elegant.

Decide on a visual hierarchy

Fonts help you to design a typographic hierarchy. You decide how the fonts work together. The three levels we need to consider are primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary level is your headlines. Secondary is used for subheads, captions and pull quotes. The tertiary level is your main body text. These levels help users to scan quickly and focus on the information that they need.

Choose fonts that work with your project

No matter what type of project you are making different fonts work better than others. Fancy and decorative fonts may be a better choice on a blog than your business website.

Create contrast

Pick fonts that complement each other. Mix style, weight, size, spacing and color to achieve the desired effect. For example, pari a bold, chunky font with a tall, thin one.

Limit the number of fonts used

Try keeping the number of fonts to 2 or 3. If you design needs more, add one font at a time.

Use a font generator

A font generators can help you to pick out fonts or experiment with new ones.

Practice

Build sample pages or apps to test out different fonts to see how they work. Keep experimenting and reading blogs for suggestions on font combinations.

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Programming With a Free API

What is an API? An application programming interface acts as an intermediary between your application and the API’s server. You request information from the server and it gives you information that you requested. When you get the data that you need, you can build a front-end design to display the information in a readable format.

Programming with a Free API
Photo by Flickr from Pexels

Find An API

You can use websites like Programmable Web, RapidAPI or API List. While you are evaluating APIs to use, consider whether or not you want to pay to use it. You can find free APIs for your projects.

Farmsense API

I found a free API on ProgrammableWeb called Farmsense. Farmsense provides three APIs to farmers: Day Lengths, Frost Dates and Moon Phases. I used the Moon Phases API to display the current phase of the moon.

Farmsense API Demo

Farmsense API uses the date to tell you what phase the moon is in, what percentage of full it is, how long the day is and more.

When I reviewed the AstroWidget, it shows way more information than I want. I wanted to display the current phase of the moon using HTML, JavaScript and CSS. First, I sketched out a design so that I would know what I wanted to build. Then, I read the API’s documentation. Farmsense API doesn’t require an API key. It does requires the current date.

I used JavaScript to get the current date and choose Milwaukee, WI as the location. Farmsense requires your location in longitude and latitude. To simplify, I decided to use one location.

Getting the Data From the API

How do you get data from the API? It returns the data in JSON. Instead of using the Astro-Widget’s method of retrieving the data, I used the JavaScript Fetch API to get it. The Fetch API made it simple and easy to retrieve the data and put it spots I wanted it.

The API doesn’t include images of the moon in each phase. I found icons of Moon Phases on Icons8. Then, I wrote a JavaScript function to determine the moon phase and displayed an icon image that closely matches the phase.

Screenshot of Moon Phase - Dec. 2, 2019

APIs let you work with data to create something more interesting. With HTML, CSS and JavaScript, you can create a simple user interface that retrieves data from an API. No database required for you to maintain. You can get start learning how to work with an API quickly. Have you built something fun with an API?

More Tips to Help You Program Better

Programming can be fun and challenging. Every programmer has their own list of tips, tricks and tools that help them solve problems and build things. Reading code, writing code, working with a team and taking breaks from coding all help you to improve your code. The collection below includes these tips and more.

More Tips For Programming Better
Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

All my best programming tips

Jason Swett shares his best programming and debugging tips. He reminds you to work on one thing at a time, use clear names for things, don’t allow yourself to stay stuck and close unneeded tabs.

Top 5 tips to be a better programmer without programming!

You can become better at programming by focusing on your health and well being. Luke Garrigan talks about why you need to sleep, get moving, take breaks away from the computer and more.

10 Ways to Become a Better Developer

Whether you work on a team or as a freelance programmer, you need to work with or for others. Elizabeth at Praxent share her tips for being a better developer by embracing “teams”, how to say “no” to others, code for the future and make sure you do some coding for fun. Use it to explore ideas and problems that interest you.

10 Tips for Better Coding

Writing code can be difficult. You want to stay organized and embrace practices and process that help you write better code. In 10 Tips For Better Coding, Abdullah Abouzekry gives you tips that you can incorporate into your coding practice.

8 Ways to Become a Better Coder

Esther Schindler shares her eight actionable ways to become a better programmer. Her tips include how to read code, write code for fun, work with other developers and learn techinques instead of tools.

Whether you are a beginner or more experience programmer, sometimes you need to be reminded on what you can do to write better code.

Build Code With Accessibility

What is accessibility in web development? It means building websites that as many people as possible can use. Accessibility benefits everyone not only people with special needs. Have you tried to use your phone in outside in the side or with one hand? You may have given up or waited until later to do what you needed. If you have special needs, using an app or website can be a challenge. Accessibility means developing websites that people can use regardless of their physical and cognitive abilities. Or how they access your website.

Build Code With Accessibility
Photo by Zan Ilic on Unsplash

How do you build software with accessibility in mind?

In her talk at Dot Net Conference 2019, Rachel Appel explained how developers can build accessible websites without greatly changing how they code. People have variety of needs. When you develop, you need to make your code usable for people with a wide range of visual, cognitive, hearing and motor abilities.

Visual

People with visual issues include low vision, blindness and color contrast. Some people may use a screen narrator to help them navigate your website. For people using a screen narrator, use skip links. Skip links allow them to skip over the navigation and go directly to the content.

For making sure that your site is readable by as many people as possible, you can use Color Oracle, a free color blindness simulator. It is available for MacOS, Linux and Windows. You can also use Accessible Colors or WebAim’s Color Contrast Checker to ensure check your color choices.

Cognitive

People with cognitive difficulties includes learning and age-related issues. You want to keep things simple and clear. Write using short sentences, active voice and simple words. Use headings and labels to help people easily find information. See Mozilla’s Cognitive Accessibility for more tips.

Hearing

People have a wide range of hearing abilities. With videos or audio, you want to include transcripts and close captioning. In your software, don’t rely on sounds alone for feedback.

Motor

People with motor issues can have tremors, difficulty moving a mouse and more. Avoid pop-ups if you can. When you can’t, make sure that they can be closed easily. Use alt tags on all images that are not decorative.

By developing for a wide range of people, you make sure that your website is usable no matter how or where they access the web.

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4 Ways to Make Your Web Design Simple

What is simplicity? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, simplicity is the state of being simple, uncomplicated or uncompounded. A simple web design is uncomplicated. Minimalist design style is related to simple. It has only the necessary elements for functionality. A minimalist design can be simple, but a simple design is not minimalist.

4 Ways to make your web design simple
Image by Ambady Sasi from Pixabay

Is your website complicated or complex?

What makes it complex?

  • Too much content
  • Unnecessary design elements
  • It’s slow to load and hard to use

Why do you want your design to be simple?

A simple website is easy to navigate and use. It has the right number of design elements. A simple website loads faster and helps guide your customer to do what they want. It has content that is readable and scannable.

What can you do to make it simple?

Look at your content and ask is it necessary?
If not, remove it. If its, consider rewriting it. Use bullet points, shorter paragraphs and headings to break the text up. You don’t want to overwhelm people with a sea of text.

Review your site for extra design elements
Do you have colors, illustrations and photos that serve as decorations? If so, consider removing anything that is unnecessary.

Check for ease of use

  • Is your navigation bar complicated? Too many options can make it hard to use.
  • Do they need to go to multiple pages before getting all of the information that they need? Too many pages can make a simple design hard to use.
  • Are your forms easy to use? Complicated forms can make your visitors leave your website.

Look for items that slow your site down
Your photos, CSS, CMS and additional code can slow your website down. People won’t use your site if it is really slow. Use tools to compress and optimize your photos and CSS. Make sure your CMS is updated to the latest version. If you use any third party or custom code to extend your website, check if they are causing speed issues. See if you can get rid of the slow ones.

Simplicity is not a design style. Keeping your web design simple is hard. Websites change and evolve over time. You have to continually work to keep the design simple.