Do you ever find yourself thrilled or repulsed by typefaces that you see on websites, in the newspaper or on billboards? If you’re not a professional designer or a typography freak, the chances for that are slim. While you don’t need a degree in the history of fonts to create a website, it is important to familiarize yourself with basic font knowledge nevertheless, so you can make better designing choices.
In this post, we present ten important questions that need to be asked before you choose the font scheme for your beautiful website. How you answer these questions will influence the type of fonts you will use, as well as how to use them.
Let’s say you’re creating a site for a business or a service and you have to define a personality for it, how would you describe that personality? For example, if you’re going for innovative, your fonts will have a high-tech, futuristic quality to them, while if you were going to say classic, you might want a font with a vintage flair.
The audience is really important in determining font choices. If you are targeting audiences that are mostly used to reading in printed media, you will definitely want to use a completely different font than what is most suitable for an audience of tweens. The type of font, its color and its size will depend greatly on who is reading it.
Crucial question! If your site is an online store, and the texts displayed on it are mostly meant to close sales, the font scheme will have to be dynamic, clear, inspiring and unambiguous. You shouldn’t use a handwritten-like font on a “Buy Now” button. But if your site is a blog that is based on personal experiences, you might want to choose something that is more intimate and less mechanic.
The previous questions can all be crystallized into one question – serif or sans serif? In typography, serifs are the little decorations and elaborations that you see at the edges of characters in fonts like Times New Roman or Georgia. Sans serif basically applies to fonts that do not have these decorations and are known for their simple lines (Arial and Calibri are two known examples).Why do you need to know this? Because this basic distinction can help you find the perfect font for your site. For instance, it is widely accepted that sans serif fonts work better with younger audiences, or that serif fonts are preferable for relative large bulks of text. Sans serifs have a bolder look while serifs are subtle and refined. Experts sometime characterize Sans serif as a more modern look, while serif is classier.Understanding the distinctions between these two archetypes of fonts will help you make a better choice between them.
Here’s the thing about fonts: They are useless if your site visitors can’t read your text. If you’re choosing a font that looks unique at first sight but ends up looking like a total blur of letters once you apply it to your site text, then it’s time to part ways. Readability is a must that you simply cannot bypass.
Some fonts look absolutely breathtaking when they’re used for just a short introduction sentence on your homepage, but absolutely horrible if you try to implement them on a large amount of text, like in a blog post or a biography page. Don’t let one impression fix your opinion. Experiment to get a sense of which fonts fit where.
Just because your site is looking dandy on a full-width screen size doesn’t mean that you are totally set with smartphones and tablets as well. It is likely that you will get more traffic coming into your site via mobile devices than from computers, so it is really important that you double-check all design elements, fonts included. Like what you see? Fantastic. Having second thoughts? Act upon them!
The good news is that your choice of fonts doesn’t have to be limited to just one. It is perfectly fine to combine two fonts on one page, sometimes it can even improve the web design quite a bit. But let’s agree that only an insane mind will randomly pair two ice cream flavors for a milkshake, right? Same thing with fonts. Put some thought into your combo, make sure your fonts compliment each other rather than hurt each other.
Beyond the very elementary function of fonts, typefaces are also beautiful visual elements that can carry the entire aesthetic value of a website on their own. Typography is an inspiring field in graphic art that generates truly magnificent works, and its influence can also be seen online.Presenting typography art on a website is great but it’s definitely not the right direction for all styles and purposes. If your website is about art, then you could experiment with typography as part of your presentation. If your site has a clear and utilitarian goal, then you might want to keep it simple.
It’s not immediately obvious, but color does make a difference when it comes to fonts. Your site texts have their own color, and the background on which they appear have another color. This relationship is called ‘contrast,’ and what you’ll notice when you start designing your site is that some fonts work better with specific contrasts. For instance, if the contrast is not very stark, you need a font that has gravitas and will not disappear into the background.
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