Type well used is invisible as type, just as the perfect talking voice is the unnoticed vehicle of the transmission of words and ideas.--Beatrice Warde (1900-1969)Warde's declaration above is from her 1930 lecture, "The Crystal Goblet, or Printing Should be Invisible," and it's saying something that every undergraduate in graphic design is taught: the best font is the one you don't notice.
Well, I noticed. Or rather, my seven-year-old did. When a brochure came in the mail from our regional center, she assumed it was for her, because it was a booklet with bright colors and graphics, and big letters in a child-friendly typeface. Here's a sample:
[Image description: On a yellow ruled background that resembles a sheet of paper from a legal pad, there is purple scrawly text, that reads "Yes No Maybe (I would like to hear more about this)" and in the same font, in black, superimposed on a purple trapezoid, "Other Things That Are Important to Your Family."]
But we soon realized, it was for me--the parent of a regional center client--a questionnaire to complete before a routine meeting next week. Why the childish design? Our regional center's client base is diverse, sure, but every parent they serve is an adult, right? Whether you're a parent with a developmental disability, or a parent with limited literacy or English proficiency, you're still an adult. I understand why the questionnaire should use basic, clear language, but I don't see why this childish font would be used for any adult audience, at least any adult audience you wanted to treat with respect.
UPDATE (7/13/11): Four years later, they're still using the same brochure--got another one in the mail just now. Sigh.