17: A Stark Difference in Design

Hey! Welcome to this week’s Stark Difference in Design. Last week’s Edition No. 16 had a 44% open rate. The most popular link was the Free Sketch Plugins from DesignModo (that included Stark).

Before we dive in, we want to give a humungous thank you to everyone who has shown us so much love this year. It was a wild, successful and often surreal one—filled with tons of education, productivity, and excitement. Thank you, a million times over. We’re pumped for 2019. 💌


+ The letters opticians use on eye charts is now an elegant typeface

The project began as a rebranding for the Norwegian family optometrist business Optician-K. As the team dug into the history of optometry for inspiration, they discovered that in the 1800s, optometrists each designed their own eye charts for testing patients. There was no standard, though, so the clinical test was far from universal. That changed in 1862 when ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen introduced the Snellen chart. It was made from blocky, seriffed letters that are probably the most closely associated with what we think of as an eye chart.

Arguably one of the most fascinating articles on the marrying of eye charts and typography. Fast Company breaks down the history of standardizing vision tests, and how the design firm ANTI Hamar has finally finished the set of letters (Yeah, there’s only 16 on that test you take), creating a complete functional eye chart font.

And they released it as a free font called Optician Sans! Clever. 🖤

+ Gretchen Nash on promoting accessibility at Amazon

I see so many software experiences that slap on accessibility features (such as closed captioning, screen readers, settings, etc) at the very end of a design cycle. I would love for accessibility design to be included in the early stages of any design product, so that it actually does become a foundational standard in design.

Aside from Gretchen’s gorgeous posters, designed for and currently hanging side-by-side at Amazon, this interview with her was such a good read.

+ We need the singular ‘they’—and it won’t seem wrong for long

The rule against using singular they is enforced neither because it preserves some consistent, objective grammatical standard, nor because it serves our communication needs. It is enforced because enforcing language norms is a way of enforcing power structures.

For bookworms

+ It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Long hours, an excessive workload, and a lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for modern professionals. But it should be a mark of stupidity, the authors argue. Sadly, this isn’t just a problem for large organizations—individuals, contractors, and solopreneurs are burning themselves out the same way. The answer to better productivity isn’t more hours—it’s less waste and fewer things that induce distraction and persistent stress.

From the Stark team

+ What are some great examples of a11y friendly public places?

We kickstarted a thread on some examples in our Spectrum community. Let’s shed some light on and give these places the attention they deserve. List the example and where you found it. Bonus points for pics!

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw majority of the stairs throughout the city of Stockholm had a portion of each staircase designed for individuals that use wheelchairs as (one of) their form(s) of mobility.

+ We have nifty stickers. Want some?

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Liked this newsletter? Let us know. And we’re always talking shop on Twitter @getstarkco or in our community chat.

–Team Stark