Readability + Design Tools
Tim Brown, Head of Typography, Adobe


Tim Brown wants to start a conversation. He believes that there is no design software today that is completely relevant. Design has changed because of the power of the web and the old tools no longer work. The web can give readers the power to make things fit their own needs and preferences, but designers must design for that power.

“It is really about people. People are all different. The web has changed design because it has rightfully given power to each person: the power to experience a designed thing from the device of their choice with settings and preferences that they have adjusted for comfortable reading. What the Readability project illustrates is that more such preferences [text size, shape, spacing] will only help. They will help people understand better; they will help people go faster.”
–Tim Brown, Adobe

According to Tim, the recipe is simple. It’s hard but it’s simple. (1) Size type relative to each reader. (2) Afford multidimensional decisions. (3) Make clear the nature of design as optional… every design decision we make the reader can override. Think about the question, “what does the relationship mean in terms of the creator and the person experiencing the creation?”

Key takeaways

Tim hopes that listeners will take two key thoughts from his talk:

  • Appreciate the gravity of the change that we are all living through together. This is the most profound change in the history of graphic design: the amount of control that readers have, and the amount of decisions that designers need to make.
  • Demand tools that respect the diversity of human beings by helping us design for and with each person.


Watch Tim Brown’s intro video,
Readability + Design Tools:


Also see Tim Brown’s Lightning Learning talk along with many others from the Skoll World Forum: Building Better Reading Event.



Tim Brown, Head of Typography, AdobeAbout Tim Brown: Tim is a designer, author, speaker, and maker of tools. He is Head of Typography at Adobe. He wrote Flexible Typesetting, from A Book Apart. See @timbrown and @typesetting for more from Tim.