There’s only so much you can say in Courier or Times New Roman. Sooner or later, one has to spread their typographical wings, use a script font to show something is almost important enough to be handwritten, or a gothic font to show something is either celebrating Oktoberfest or influenced by death metal.
Whims is sort of like a classy meme generator, or a social network for casual typography junkies. It’s an iPhone app that turns a short message–about the length of a tweet–into a fancily laid-out, T-shirt-ready slogan.
“Social networking apps have focused on photos and location-based features, which are great, but we’ve forgotten the importance of words,” Whims CEO Alex Khorram tells Co.Design. “Form can complement content to provide greater expression.”
Whims works a lot like any text editor. You highlight words, tweak font sizes, and augment spacing. What’s particularly clever, however, is that Whims features a series of pre-made style sheets. Just as you’d toggle between Instagram filters, Whims lets you mix and match cleverly named profiles like Daisy Buchanan or Bruce Wayne, even Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Each makes sense, either in a literal visual sense (Obama’s seems plucked straight from his campaign posters) or in a thematic, gut sense (Buchanan is still a cute flake).
“We think having an endless number of fonts, colors, sizes, spacing, and other design options would create too many options, and thereby reduce the overall usability of the product,” Khorram explains (correctly). “We want users to have more than enough options to express themselves creatively, but not too many where it becomes too difficult to create a Whim.”
Still, what happens when you get tired of your existing Whim collection? User-generated content–style sheets created by users–will offer more variety in the future. “Think about a Bloomingdales style sheet, a Georgetown University style sheet, a Dr. Seuss style sheet, and other designer style sheets,” Khorram elaborates. “Anyone can submit one, and we will review and include in our library if they meet our requirements.”
Despite its few thousand users, Whims may seem like it’s sitting in a pretty strange, even artificial, niche. After all, good writing can often express itself, can’t it? Do we NEED to HAVE more E X P R E S S I O N? But at the same time, there are more and more apps in this particular space–apps like Over, which actually superimpose text onto your photos. The entire web is growing more visual; why can’t words, too?