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Design A to Z – X Y & Z

For our very last post in this series of Design A – Z and for 2011, we have decided to combine the last three letters into one post all about the alphabet. After all, where would we be without the good old alphabet.

The alphabet is one of the first things that we learn about in life, from a very early age we are exposed to all sorts of toys and books with the familiar A B and C. The saying as easy as ABC is a funny contradiction when you consider the huge and complex history that has brought us to the 26 letters that we know today. This post is more of an appreciation piece rather than a detailed history of the alphabet, if you are on the hunt for more information about the origins and development of the modern alphabet then visit this link on I love typography.

The letters that we are all so familiar with and use every hour of every day have roots that stem as far back as language itself. Written communication in it’s earliest forms appeared as pictures known as pictography or ideography. These picture representations of daily life were drawn on cave walls and tablets. The spoken word was used to interpret these pictures.

These basic pictures were modified over time and characters were added in an attempt to communicate more accurately. Thousands of characters and symbols were used to communicate. This was not the most efficient way of creating a written language, as learning to read these pictures and characters was a complex task relying on memory. One form of such written communication was hieroglyphics. Learning hieroglyphics was very time consuming and required a lot of studying. This meant that written communication was mainly confined to the wealthy and scholars.

The idea behind an alphabet is that a simple symbol represents a sound. Writing is a way of recording these sounds using these symbols – a way to record words, thus simplifying written communication. This simplification made writing and reading the written word accessible and much easier for people to learn. The development of the alphabet is one of the most important of all time, it made knowledge and communication available for all.

The English alphabet that we use to write today was developed from the Roman alphabet. The word alphabet is a combination of the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta. These Greek words were developed from the original Semitic names for the symbols: aleph (“ox”) and beth (“house”).

The early Roman alphabet had 20 letters:

A B C D E F H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X

It then expanded by borrowing letters from the Greek alphabet, namely G, Y and Z. Below the alphabet had 23 letters.

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z

The reason that our modern English alphabet is based on the Roman alphabet is due to Roman dominance in Europe.

The English Alphabet today as we all know it has 26 letters. However we also have two versions of these 26 letters. These are divided into uppercase and the later addition of lowercase letters.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Lowercase letters were developed from cursive hand written versions of the uppercase letters. Although uppercase and lowercase letters look very different, when we are learning the alphabet, we learn that both a and A represent the same sound. We also learn to recognise the familiar characteristics that make an “a” in one font the same sound as an “a” set in another font.

So have a good look around you and notice just how important the alphabet and written communication is to us in our day to day lives. Where would we be without our AB and C’s?

We hope that you have enjoyed our Design A – Z posts this year, we would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Design A to Z – WordPress

Here at curious we build many different types of websites, from wedding blogs and classified sites to company websites, and everything in between, but one thing that most of them have in common is the Content Management System that they are built in: WordPress.

 

 

A Content management system is software which allows you to easily add and make changes to the content on your website. (For more details see our CMS post)

We are not the only WordPress fans – WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use on the Internet. But what makes it so popular?

WordPress is Open Source
Unlike some other CMSs, WordPress is free to use. When budgets are tight this is a big advantage!

WordPress Plugins
One of our favourite things about WordPress is the huge range of plugins available. A plugin is a small program that can add extra features to WordPress. There are plugins for everything from fancy galleries and slideshows to facebook integration. We have a library of trusted plugins that we return to again and again to add extra functionality to our websites.

WordPress is Search Engine Friendly
Google rankings are very important – a beautiful website is useless if no-one can find it. WordPress is built to be easy for search engines to find and we can customize it for you to improve your results even further.

Built-in Blogging
A blog is a fantastic way to engage with your customers or clients and keep them up to date with all of your news.

WordPress was originally developed as blogging software and it has excellent built-in blogging tools. Uploading images, saving drafts, managing comments, blocking spam, and tagging and categorising posts are all simple tasks in WordPress.

WordPress is Easy to Use and Update
The most important feature of WordPress for us is how easy our clients find it to use. Writing and updating content and adding images video or audio are all simple tasks.

Got questions about WordPress? Get in touch –we’d love to help!

Design A to Z – Vector

This week we are looking at vectors, but not the type you did in maths in school!

If you are sending logos to a designer for a poster, flyer or other piece of promotional material they will usually ask for these logos to be supplied as vector images. But what exactly is a vector image and what makes it different from other images?

Illustrations, logos and text are usually created and saved as vector images. Unlike digital photographs and other bitmap images, which are made up of pixels, vector images or files are made up of scalable shapes. This means that they can be stretched or shrunk without losing quality.


This image shows the difference in image quality between a magnified vector and a magnified bitmap – vectors can be scaled without losing quality while bitmaps cannot.

Vector images are also not confined to a rectangular shape, they can be anything from a simple circle to a very complex swirling pattern. This makes vectors easy to layer on top of other images such as a coloured backgrounds or a photograph. It is also much easier to change the colours in a vector image than other types of image.

Vector files are often created by special software, so you may not be able to open them unless you have this software installed. You can usually tell if a file is a vector by its file extension.

.ai .eps and .svg are common vector file extensions. Vectors can also be saved as pdf files, though not all pdf files are vectors.

Have questions about vector files or other file types? Get in touch, we’d love to help.