Fonts have a way of affecting your day to day, whether you are aware of it or not. In the present digital world, more and more people pay attention to visual appeal as a strategy for turning visitors into real customers. Design now takes center stage as an important factor affecting purchase decisions.
For individuals or companies considering a new website or revamping an old one, using a font that goes well with their chosen design is crucial. Designers who understand font psychology can evolve into a UX (user experience) designer.
But the selection process will not be easy. There are hundreds and thousands of fonts to choose from and stakeholders need to discuss how the creative process should flow.
The Creative Process:
While many seem to think that picking a font is easy, designers actually put a lot of thought into font usage. Today’s global culture has a strong affinity for visual signals and a font’s compatibility with your website theme and layout can create such signals.
People tend to go for striking designs – those that tickle their senses and leave a lasting impression. With their understanding of the dynamics between design and emotional responses, designers go out of their way to put all the pieces together.
Layout, colours, images, fonts – all other elements on your website – must complement each other for maximum impact. Imagine a cake mix with ingredients thrown about randomly. You don’t expect this cake to taste good when the ingredients are all over the place.
Different web designers have different approaches to design. They also undergo different creative processes. Some designer prefer functionality over aesthetics, highlighting clean cuts and geometrical shapes. Other designers like to play with colour schemes and strike a balance functionality with visual appeal.
Be that as it may, web design is still a science and an art of its own. There are rules to consider if you want your website to look good and friendly to users at the same time. Such rules govern even something as simple as font usage on your website.
Proper Font Usage:
At some point in the design process, web designers have to select fonts that go well with the web layout. Your biggest challenge is choosing font combinations that create a good user experience.
Put typography at the top of your design priorities. Some fonts can engage users and encourage them to look further into a website. Others appear bland and unappetising and users tend to ignore them at first glance.
The designer is responsible for differentiating effective fonts from those that evoke no response. It can be a daunting task but experienced website designers know the difference.
Here are aspects of font usage that every designer must focus on if they want to design a compelling website:
1.) Font Size:
The size of your font can affect user experience. For headlines, sub-headers and floating call to action boxes, web designers always use bigger fonts mostly in bold. The bigger the font, the authority and have more impact.
Font size makes reading your website less stressful for your visitor, so that from the get-go, as soon as they land on your page, they have a clear idea of what your website is about or what products or services you are offering.
The problem with font size is that you cannot go overboard with them. No matter how good your layout or functional your Interface, the wrong font is always a deal-breaker. It makes the rest of your website look bad.
On occasion, designers experiment with fonts and isolate or enlarge specific texts within the content body to emphasise a point. This may backfire if users start feeling your content is too salesy.
When used excessively or without proper planning, font size can reduce your website’s attractiveness. If your website is more visual, experts recommend cutting your text length and formulating concise headlines or sub-headers.
2.) Font Type:
How your font appears on the headers and text body of your website can also influence the browsing behaviour of your visitors. Even if a typeface matches your web layout, it can cost you your potential customers if it becomes a visual inconvenience.
Certain fonts induce headache while others are easier to read and comfortable to the eyes. Designers must not only sift through a sea of fonts to find the right ones but they must also have a clear understanding of their prospects.
Know your readers’ quirks. Some readers may not have a problem with font types but there will always be those with specific preferences. Anything you publish on your site must take into account their likely preferences.
Are your readers young professionals, middle-aged folks or senior citizens? If you cater to a senior audience, you might want to avoid fuzzy fonts such as those in the serif group. Garamond, Times New Roman and Courier, to name a few of its group members, have small lines on the edges and are not good for ageing eyes.
If pressed for time or choosing font types still confuse you, use sans serif. This font group houses the most fail-safe fonts including Arial, Helvetica and Tahoma. Unlike the serif group, sans serif fonts are free from all lines so they are perfect for older readers and readers with vision issues.
3.) Font Layout:
Where and how you placed fonts across your website will affect the way your brand appears to target audiences. Are your taglines easily visible on your homepage? Do your product titles look too cramped?
Designers sometimes make the elementary mistake of placing fonts on areas of the website that are not easy to notice. If you want to catch the attention of your target readers, place important texts at the centre or upper centre part of a web page. The point of such a layout is to encourage your readers to browse through your website. Your message must be in their line of sight as soon as they visit your website.
Font layout also pertains to the spaces in between letters. Some fonts hardly have any space in between. They are so tightly packed that even a few sentences can appear like a long paragraph. Avoid using such fonts if you want to earn traffic and create a good experience for visitors.
Always choose a typeface with balanced proportions. It usually works well with any website theme. If there is a need for an artsy font to better represent the industry your website caters to, use it sparingly. Preferably on headers or sub-headers with limited texts.
The right font layout makes reading flow naturally. Readers do not feel like they are deliberately reading something. It is easy to digest information when text placement on your website does not strain your readers’ eyes. A quick glance should already give them an understanding of your brand.
Use Fonts To Increase Your Advantage:
Selecting the right font can be a game changer for websites facing tough competition. Along with a responsive theme, custom coded following the latest HTML and CSS standards, proper font usage can leverage your website in many ways.
But the be-all and end-all of font usage is your readers. They are the reason why you built your website in the first place. Your font choices must take your readers’ background into consideration.
Because seemingly simple matters like font usage can convert casual readers into actual clients, your challenge as a designer or web owner is to make the most out of the fonts on your website. Err on the side of caution and use fail-safe fonts such as those in the sans serif group should you fear adopting avaunt-garde designs.
Finally, designers must put themselves in the shoes of target web visitors. They must not let their passion for design override user experience. Great web designs always incorporate functionality, ease of navigation, aesthetics and proper font usage without leaving one out of the equation.
Your website tells the story of your company and why you do what you do. Though hardly perceptible, fonts play an important role in this narrative and that is to help you communicate your story better to readers.