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Simon Pascal Klein – Web Designer and Typophile

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Pascal is, in his own words, a graphic and web designer, rampant typophile and UI aficionado. I found this to be quite accurate after I came across some of his really interesting blog posts on typography and then went to check out his website. Being a very friendly guy, he immediately agreed when I sent him a mail asking for an interview with us.

Pascal is, in his own words, a graphic and web designer, rampant typophile and UI aficionado. I found this to be quite accurate after I came across some of his really interesting blog posts on typography and then went to check out his website. Being a very friendly guy, he immediately agreed when I sent him a mail asking for an interview with us.

Hi, for those who don’t know you, would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure. I’m Simon Pascal Klein (Pascal preferably), a standards-compliance striving web and front-end designer, and rather incurably a rampant ‘typophile’ (lover of good type and typography). I was born in Mainz, Germany — the birthplace of Gutenberg and western printing — and now work in Canberra, Australia as a freelance designer while not studying at the Australian National University. I try to be engaged in the local web and open source communities, and was one of the first ‘unorganisers’ to bring BarCamp to Canberra.

What are your main skills and how did you learn them?

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Maybe my eye for typography, but it’s a quality that’s achieved through a variety of means. Since I largely work on the web with plain text (most of the web is textual, and much of it is sadly a bother to read) I work chiefly in CSS and (x)HTML, and when necessary mock things up in the vector editor Inkscape. Where possible, I like cutting out heavy duty graphic design packages and going straight to code. My ‘skills’ (feels odd calling them such) were largely self-taught, and where not, by watching and having friendly souls show me the way.

Working as a freelance designer and studying for a degree in Gender and Development Studies, how do you combine and connect these two?

Yea, my design interests are rather separated from my academic interests. Personally I find the discrepancy provides a healthy and sanity-boosting break (it’s nice having a break from getting annoyed with Internet Explorer and getting frustrated over an essay instead). That said I think there is always a chance of overlap, and the possibility of applying things learned in one area to another. My university studies have made me a more critical and aware person, and given me an interest in working in a design capacity with larger organisations that deal with issues in gender and development fields (human rights, resource management, crisis response, …). In the meantime of course I spend way too long on the typography of my essays and papers. 🙂

Could you tell us something about some recent projects of yours that you really enjoyed doing?

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I’ve spent more time studying recently than working, but probably my last most enjoyable project has been writing on design, particularly over at designfestival.com. Beyond that, working with my good friend and work colleague, Andy White, on an internal customer and product management application. The web app allowed employees to track and manage warranty and replacement inquiries for wireless communication devices used here in Australia throughout civil, law enforcement, and military services (so anything from those little patient alert beepers that hospital beds are outfitted with to walkie-talkies and so on). Doing the design for the app was a lot of fun.

On your website klepas.org, you describe yourself as a “rampant typophile”. What fascinates you about typography and why?

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Typography is the art of setting type. Beyond books and magazines and other printed material, much of the web remains textual, and much of it is a pain to read and quite inaccessible. To me I don’t see the point or the great fascination in spending three or four hours designing glossy photographic and fancy header images or otherwise if the text (and probably the bulk of the ‘content’ on the website) remains difficult to read or navigate. To me, ensuring a text is both legible and readable, while offering a subtle yet enticing aesthetic to readers is the ultimate goal the design of textual content.

What is important when designing or choosing fonts for a website design?

Chiefly, the degree of recognisability of the glyphs (the legibility), and how discernible words and sentences and so forth are when a text is set in a specific font (the readability). Secondly, does the font otherwise fulfil your setting needs? Questions herein cover language and character support (does it have a Greek counterpart that you may need for your Greek branches?), are there enough styles that cover your styling needs (beyond the roman, italic, spashaton and bold, is there a light and an extra-heavy style of your typeface, and are there italic variants of each? Does the typeface have small-capitals for setting acronyms, and tabular figures for setting numerical data in a table?) Finally enter the aesthetic and stylistic applicability of a font: what ‘mood’ or sentiments does the typeface carry? Is it giving the text a sense of being ‘old, sincere, and genuine’, or does it provide the text with a modern acclaim? Is it quirky? Or does it seemingly just leave the text with a feeling of neutrality (a property Helvetica is for example famous for).

What’s the worst thing you can do in regards to web typography?

Make things illegible and unreadable, and this can be done with the ‘best’ fonts in the world. Common mistakes include sizing things too small (14px + on the web is a recommended minimum for body copy), poor text to background contrast (light grey text on a white background is a classic), little or no vertical space (leading), and short or too long line lengths (measures).

In what way is typography important for the success of a website?

If the success of your website in any part requires reading any text, then typography is important for you. Make sure your text is firstly legible and readable, and then make it interesting and entice your visitors to read it and act on it. If you can’t read it or it looks like a bother to read then your visitors probably won’t read it — simple as that.

Please share some tips with our trainees for their website projects.


As Jeff Croft once said, “Typography is not picking a ‘cool’ font.” So, just because there are a lot of new fonts available for use on the web via CSS @font-face and through font hosting and licensing services like Typekit doesn’t mean they’re designed for screen-use (many were designed for print, and never for rendering on a screen). You can achieve a lot with just Georgia, Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana; a choice in typeface doesn’t give you instant good typography. More broadly, three pieces of advice:

  1. keep it simple, stupid is a great general rule of thumb;
  2. keep a notepad or something to jot down ideas with you as much as possible;
  3. and when possible get away from your computer screen, even if it’s just a walk down and around the block. 🙂

Last question: Which websites do you use every day and you wouldn’t want to live without them?

Daily? Not many — I like to rely as little as possible on the cloud. My guaranteed daily visit would probably just be google.com. Otherwise, favourites include ILoveTypography.com and Wikipedia for content, and GitHub.com for managing my work.

Thank you very much for taking time to do this interview with us, Pascal!

If you want to know more about Pascal or see some of his work, check out his website klepas.org. He also writes great articles on typography for the design blog designfestival.com.

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it. If you liked it, please don’t forget to share and comment 🙂

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