Typography might seem minute—but it’s more prominent than you think.
Written words are everywhere—from the menu you read this morning in your favorite coffee shop to this article. Even if you’re not a trained font designer, you may still be able to point out that the scripts you see in all these materials are different. These different scripts are called typefaces, a set of distinct design features for glyphs, such as alphabets and characters. For example, Times New Roman is a typeface. What we usually refer to as “font” actually means the variations (e.g. weight, size) within a typeface. For instance, 10 point Times New Roman and 14 point Times New Roman are two different fonts. The study of font style and how typefaces convey messages in different contexts is known as typography.
Wherever written words go, there’s typography, and business websites are no exception. If you find your company’s website odd in appearance but can’t put your finger on it, there may be something wrong with the typography. Read on to find out more.
Introducing font psychology
In essence, font psychology studies how typography influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In other words, fonts can trigger our emotions, and we tend to evaluate them based on our cognition, i.e., how our existing knowledge influences perception and judgment. For instance, given that casual scripts are often used in materials that require an informal look, when we see a casual handwritten font, like “Dawning of a New Day” (created by Kimberly Geswein on Google Fonts), we’ll label it as informal instinctively.
In short, you need to “manipulate” font psychology if you want visitors to perceive your company positively when visiting your website. Follow the guide below to optimize your business website’s typography step-by-step:
Why typography matters to your business
Before diving into font selection, you should first understand how typography affects your business. As 90% of website design is characterized by fonts, it should come as no surprise that you need to spend time studying them to improve your website. There’s no “golden rule” for font selection, though there are some scripts that are suggested based on font psychology factors, like professionalism and visitors’ emotions.
Regardless of which category your business falls into, crafting a professional corporate image is always essential. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but you can start with your company’s website typography. If you want to portray your company as established, stable and professional, choose typefaces from the Serif family (see the section “Know your font families”), such as Georgia, Baskerville and Garamond, because they are associated with tradition and stability.
If you still remember the definition of font psychology, typefaces can convey feelings. Simply put, when we see traditional Serif prints, such as Times New Roman and Georgia, we tend to perceive the content we’re reading as formal and professional. In contrast, a website made up of casual typefaces, like handwriting scripts, will make us feel relaxed.
As aforementioned, it’s always important to maintain a company’s professional image. Therefore, you should pick typefaces that present your company as well-developed and, most importantly, reliable.
Know your font families
The typefaces you see on websites primarily come from four families: Serif, Sans-serif, handwritten and decorative. Let’s look into them one by one:
Serif typeface refers to scripts with small, short lines extending from the edges (known as the serif; parts highlighted in red). Since fonts from this family were designed to make texts easier to read, they can fit most businesses’ website styles. Owing to the classical nature, Serif fonts also carry a feeling of trust alongside respectability, making them an ideal option for company’s websites. Some popular fonts from this family include Playfair Display, Garamond, Baskerville, Georgia and Courier New.
As the name suggests, Sans-serif typefaces come without decorative lines. Without the serif, the script appears to be simple and minimalistic. Opt for Arial, Helvetica, Proxima Nova, Futura and Calibri if you intend to keep your website modern and clean and give more space for visitors to digest the content.
Handwritten, or handwriting fonts, are typefaces that resemble our natural handwriting. Since our handwriting styles vary based on our personality, handwritten fonts also come in a wide range of styles. While handwritten scripts may seem fun to play with, it’s not so smart to incorporate them into your business website because the flourishes and curls (known as swashes) that come with them can affect readability. This may be why international brands like Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Disney only adopt handwriting scripts for their logos, not their websites.
Like handwritten fonts, decorative typefaces are also known for their extreme features, like swashes or exaggerated serifs. While decorative fonts provide creators room to unleash their creativity, heavily decorated ones are difficult to read. Therefore, they are primarily used in few-word titles only. In case you want to draw your visitor’s attention to a slogan on your website, a catchy decorative font may be the best fit.
Mix and match typefaces
Using only one distinct typeface can make your website look dull. In fact, mixing and matching two scripts can bring variety to the website and make the ultimate design more balanced. Celebrated type designer Jessica Hische suggests that we should identify the dominant typeface (known as the anchor type) in the design before selecting the second one.
Mixing and matching prints is the right way to add a bit of playfulness to your business website. However, you should never use more than four typefaces throughout the design because if there are too many fonts on a website, it will become visually chaotic and distracting.
Take font size seriously
If you have located a typeface that suits your corporate style, congratulations. Yet, at the same time, don’t forget to take care of the font size as well because it affects readability. Words that are too small (where you need to squint) or too big (where you to scroll a few times to finish reading a complete sentence) will affect customers’ browsing experience, especially if your website is designed for mobile browsing.
Technically speaking, any text input on the website should be at least 16px (short for pixels) because people can read texts in this size comfortably without straining their eyes. This typography rule also applies to body text (around 16px). On the other hand, captions should be a few pixels down in size so that readers can distinguish between the two (body texts and captions).
Bottom line: check your typography in different browsers
Fonts can sometimes be tricky because they can display differently across browsers. Even if you have finalized the design and tested it a million times on your desktop, it’s still best for you to double or even triple-check if the typefaces show up well across all devices. Don’t forget to also check if the content displayed in chosen scripts is appropriately scaled and readable (not too small or oversized). Google Resizer comes in handy whenever you need to put your website for a test.
There’s still a lot to cover about typography, but given space constraints, above are the most useful tips you need to put together or maintain your business websites. If your budget allows, hire professionals for better outcomes, and this investment can make your businesses grow.
- How Did Corporate Memphis Become Popular? And Why Do People Hate It?
- 8 Online Graphics Tools To Amp Up Your Brand Design
- Workplace Design Trends to Watch in 2022
- 5 Hidden Google Treasures You Don’t Want to Miss
Header image courtesy of the author