Behind Upstatement’s bold, new typography app: Glyphosaurus

Give us a brief summary of what you do/who you are.

We’re Upstatement, a small Boston design firm. We recently worked on the design of, and over the winter have been on Vision Quest ( . We like to make good things for good people.

Where do you get your news?

Mike: Google Reader
Ari: Hacker News
JPB: Daily Show

What do you think of the experience on most news sites? Are there some you love? Some you hate?

Mike: I think many are behind the times, not just in terms of web technology but in content and attitude. I really dig NPR though, they pretty much have it covered inside and out, with great content, a really nice site/apps and social presence.

What was the inspiration behind Glyphosaurus?

Mike: I was trying to draw a big, scripty “B”, and was looking for all the ways to do that. Google image search was pretty polluted, and other good design inspiration sites didnt structure the data in such a way that you could just search for a script, capital B. So it was a simple idea, and we figured it would be a fun thing to try to build.

What was the development process like for the web app? How many were on the team and how long did it take?

Ari: I think that part of the reason it came out as well as it did is because all of us contributed to it. We started by working together – both designers and developers – to come up with a really solid architecture for the site so it would be beautiful and usable, but also elegantly built behind the scenes. We argued a lot, but I think ultimately the site benefited from our vastly different ideas. (moar)

Do you think there is a lack of appreciation for letter forms on the web?

Mike: That was probably true a few years ago, but I’d say it’s the opposite now. People have started to go crazy for design and “designy” stuff, from javascript lettering libraries to people repainting old typecases on apartment therapy.

Why are letters so cool?

JPB: Letters are everywhere!
Ari: They come in so many different shapes. A script G and a blackletter G and a Helvetica G aren’t very similar at all, but we recognize them all as G’s.

The site is responsive, as are some of your other recent projects, ahem, is responsive web design the future?

Mike: Sure! I think it’s really useful for what it does, and it makes a lot of sense for certain applications. I have a feeling that “responsive” is just a bridge to a land where apps are just written in web technology and can do everything a iOS or Android app can do. We’re not there yet, but it’s a great start and a fun challenge.

What’s your advice to people who have ideas for web apps, but don’t really know how to get started?

Ari: Try to come up with as clear of an idea as possible. Half the work we did on Glyphosaurus was in the planning. Think about your audience, the type of content you’re looking for, and the best way to structure your data. Sketch out some really simple wireframes, just to organize your thoughts. From there, you can either find someone to help you build it or try to make it yourself. We built Glyphosaurus in Django, which is a great framework for building rapid prototypes.

How do you explain what you do to your parents?

Mike: We’re “good with computers.”

When are you happiest?

Mike: Probably just riding my bike to work in the morning on a nice day. Nothing stressful has happened yet, and I’m about to go see all my friends.

Which letter would you get a tattoo of?

Mike: Kurt Vonnegut would say we are all born with our own special asterisk.

JPB: I like A’s and R’s a lot. Not sure if I’d get a tattoo though.

Ari: I also like A’s and R’s! I’s are cool too. I’d definitely get an A.

About Larry Buchanan

is a freelance designer and developer living in Brooklyn, NY.

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