Visualgui 2018

Continuing with the tradition, I try to redesign this site at least once a year. Visualgui 2018 is an incremental change rather than a complete overhaul. 2018 is built upon 2017. The focus is still readability and typography.

In this new design, my goal is to go fullscreen even on large desktop. Display texts and headings will span across the screen at any size. With my subscription for Font of the Month Club, I intend to use large typography for the hero banner on the homepage. I had stopped using images on this site for a long time and I have not missed them. Typography will continue to be the dominate feature on this site.

For reading, I am staying with Alda, designed by Berton Hasebe. While there are a handful of text faces that support Vietnamese characters, Alda remains the strongest contender. Its diacritics are sturdy and legible. For headings, I am going with the beautiful Tenez, designed by Rodrigo Saiani, even though its diacritical marks are not quite there for me yet. Rodrigo, if you want to improve Vietnamese accents, I am more than happy to help. Small text is set in Pelago, designed by Robert Slimbach. Its open counter works well at small size. Unlike previous versions, I try to use at least three or four typefaces at a time.

For colors, I am keeping the red, but changing the background to a subtle color. I want to move away from pure white background but still comfortable to read. I am also taking advantage of CSS Grid for layout. I hope you enjoy the new look and feel.

Some Updates

Made the text bigger for ON Designs. I also changed the typeface to Pelago a few weeks ago. I like the openness of this latest sans-serif typeface designed by Robert Slimbach.

For Thơ Mưa, I switched the typeface from Cormorant Garamond to EB Garamond, which has been expanded recently by Georg Duffner and Google Fonts. EB is much more legible than Cormorant, the diacritics in particular.

Put together a site to promote Learn. Challenge. Lead. I modified WordPress’s Twenty Seventeen a bit to fit Scalia Law branding. Twenty Seventeen is a decent theme for this sort of promotional site.

As you might have already noticed, I had changed the headings for this site to Halyard Display, designed by Joshua Darden. Just wanted something bold and different. This site is now using four typefaces.

Simplexpression Updates

Simplexpression is now typeset in Mrs. Eaves designed by Emigre’s Zuzana Licko. Mrs. Eaves’s elegant details are a perfect fit for Mrs. Nguyễn’s designs. The homepage is updated with CSS Grid to fill up the entire screen. I love CSS Grid and I also love this little project. I hope my wife will make more pieces in the near future. Right now her main job and the boys (including yours truly) are keeping her too busy.

LLM Mini Site

We just launched a mini site for Scalia Law’s LLM programs. It has a homepage as well as several pages in different languages. It also integrated with existing LLM Admissions pages on the law school website. Thinking of getting your LLM? Check us out.

Realigned With CSS Grid

This blog is now using CSS Grid. Although I have been wanted to play around with grid on the web for a while, I have been holding out for browser support. Now it is the time to make the switch. I am still very new at CSS Grid, but already impressed with this simple yet powerful feature. I am looking forward to learn more.

Grid has been an essential tool for my graphic design for a while. Needless to say, I am one of those designers that live and die by the grid. Therefore, the support of grid on the web is very exciting to me. I am still trying to wrap my head around all the terminologies because the terms for CSS Grid aren’t the same as ones I have been accustomed to. For instance, gap is used instead of gutter. Other than than, I am so glad that browser makers are onboard with supporting grid.

Mad props to all the designers and developers who had made grid on the web happened. If you want to learn CSS Grid, check out this resource.

I also reworked my résumé using CSS Grid.

Upgrade Law School Website to MODX Revolution

On the front-end, nothing has changed to the Law School website, but the backend is completely upgraded. We migrated the entire site to a brand new dedicated server, upgraded to the latest version of MODX Revolution, and switched to HTTPS. Anthony Harvey is the mad genius who has made all of these happened. He is such an amazing developer. If it was not for him, we would still be stuck in the good ole MODX Evolution. He responded to tons of my questions with patience. I am so grateful for his work.

Dep Designs Relaunched

I am proud to announce the relaunch for Dep Designs, an architecture studio based in Maryland. Visit the new site or read the case study.

29 Sites & Counting

This week I migrated MVETS, the last site on the old server, to the network of Scalia Law Sites. We are now running 29 websites on a WordPress Multisite. It has been a long and challenging project, but I am proud of the result. I have learned a great deal about running and streamlining a network of websites. I also showcased this project on my portfolio.

Scalia Law Sites

In the past six months, I had been working on creating a network of websites for Scalia Law School. The goal for this project is to provide the law school community an online presence that is consistent with the Scalia Law branding. The experience was challenging and rewarding at the same time.

In the initial development, I was tasked with moving existing WordPress sites from our GoDaddy dedicated server to our in-house server. Instead of moving each individual installation of WordPress, I wanted to take advantage of WordPress MultiSite. In addition, I wanted to create a network of websites that looks and feels like the Scalia Law branding.

Rather than creating a theme from scratch, I relied on WordPress’s Twenty Sixteen as a starter. Other than the thick border around the edge of the browser, the simple and clean design of Twenty Sixteen allowed me to create a child theme for customization. The theme for SLS is fairly straightforward.

The challenging part was to convinced stakeholders to be part of this network. I am glad that twenty six websites has been on board and only one rejected the design. I expected the resistance to be higher, but one out of twenty six is not bad.

Make It Fit

David Jonathan Ross just released his hyper-stylized typeface called Fit, which designed for maximum impact. He shares:

I drew Fit with an expansive range of widths…. Beginning with the impossibly narrow Skyline style, each character grows by 3600% (on average) to reach the gargantuan Ultra Extended. In between these ridiculous extremes, you will find a family rich in panache and expressive potential.

One of the exciting things about Fit is the support for Vietnamese right from the start. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute my input into the Vietnamese diacritics. Because Fit is such a unique typeface, incorporating legible Vietnamese accents while maintaining its proportion was one of the challenges.

Although Fit is not meant to be read, David has done an excellent job of making the Vietnamese accents as clear as possible. One of my favorite accents he drew was the tilde. The first time he showed me it was barely unrecognizable as a tilde. I suggested a solution, but it was not so great. Then he came up with design that is not only legible but also fitting.

It was such a great pleasure collaborating with David on this typeface. He did all the designs. I just provided my advice. When David asked me what would be the use case for Fit and I immediately thought of old Vietnamese vinyl records. As a result, I redesigned old vinyl records using his new typeface. If you design Vietnamese album covers or Vietnamese entertainment marketing materials, make sure to include Fit in your font collection.

Thanks to David for letting me to be part of this stellar typeface. I am looking forward to working with him in the future. I would love to see Turnip and Fern support Vietnamese.