The typeface used on your website can greatly influence how visitors perceive your website. Along with pictures and graphics, the typeface, or font, is among the first design aspects that people notice and will form a large part of the first impression of your site. This is important because it can determine if people will even bother to read your content or not, irrespective of how useful it may be.
Before anyone has even read a single word, the font tells already tells us something of the message the author is trying to get across, the tone of the material, the intended audience and in some circumstances even the identity of the creator.
And even though it’s not the focus of this blog, typefacing is equally important to offline business too. The fonts used on shop signage, leaflets and newspaper advertisements, for example, tells us something about those businesses and whether we’re interesting in using them.
One of the major difficulties in effective web design is choosing the right font. It’s almost certainly the case that you could use several similar, yet distinct, fonts and achieve a positive outcome. However for every font that would enhance your website there are hundreds more which would have the opposite effect. A quick search on Google Fonts reveals a choice of 877 different font families which nicely highlights the difficulty you could have choosing the right font.
Clearly, fonts differ from one another. They are designed this way to provide a choice; to be able to match the font to the tone of the material, to be able to enhance or diminish, stress importance over the every day, excite, enthuse, interest or reassure the reader. It helps the reader associate themselves with the material before a single word has been read, and for online businesses who need viewer engagement to survive this is crucially important.
How to choose a font
Can you afford NOT to use a serious font?
Your website cannot be considered to have a good, attractive or even effective design if the font does not compliment the rest of the design features and isn’t appropriate for the tone of the business (industry) and the written material contained on the site.
For example, a jokey, light hearted, font does not convey the right message of respect, integrity and competence which you’d look for when choosing a solicitor.
Realistically, business websites should use serious and formal font types, perhaps with rare exceptions for joke shops or entertainers, for example. A serious font type suggests competence and trust, and reassures customers. It’s then imperative that the written content backs this up or else any consideration to font choice is wasted time and effort.
Is it legible?
This may seem like an obvious point but it’s worth mentioning. Fonts have to be readable, and not readable but easily readable. If it’s in any way difficult to read then the chances of long term reader engagement decrease dramatically. Fonts which are heavily stylised or too thick can make it difficult to distinguish individual letters, particularly within longer words. Fonts which are too thin can be difficult to read depending on the colour of the text and background. So a good place to start is somewhere in the middle of those parameters.
Which font should you use?
There are loads of great free fonts available and just as many with modest subscription costs should you prefer. Appropriate business fonts will be more similar then they are different, however some offer a range of styles, emphasis and weightings such as bold, thin, extra thin and italics, for example. Of course, you may not want these features in which case you can make your choice based solely on appearance, however if you do they can be a useful way to place emphasis within text.
To choose a font for your website you might consider your target audience, in other words a typical customer. Decide what they would expect your font to look like depending on the nature of your business. From there you can eliminate unsuitable fonts and create a shortlist of your favourites. Now, simply choose the font which has the features you need and best compliments the design of your website.
Avoid using serif fonts, those with the small line attached to the extremities of the characters such as Times New Roman, for example. They look stale and old fashioned and aren’t always easy to read as well. By comparison, if we look at the marketing material for some of the web giants like Google or Apple, both use sans serif fonts which are clean, contemporary and synonymous with their brand. This is what you should attempt to emulate.
Typeface as it relates to brand and image
Google use a font called “Roboto” across many of their sites and marketing material. It’s a clean, sans serif font and is completely free to use if you want. But if you spend a lot of time online it’s easy to recognise and doesn’t do much to promote your brand. Of course, the follow up to this is should your website or business have a brand? Small or local businesses you’d think not, in which case you can use whichever font you feel is best. On the other hand if brand is important, or at least will be in the future, then it is a good idea to make use of a lesser known font which one day might be synonymous with your business.
Hopefully this piece will allow you to get off on the right track or improve your current website. On the face of it fonts seem unimportant, however when we delve a little deeper it becomes apparent just how integral they are to attractive and efficient web design. If you’d like to read more, check out our blog and community articles and be sure to visit webhostgb.com for web hosting and web design services.