When designing a website that you hope to be successful, you may consider the most important aesthetic aspects to be the layout, structure and visual images. Fonts can seem like a less important factor, one that will hardly influence how your visitors interact with your content and engage with your products or services. However, studies have demonstrated that typography is extremely important for determining the first impressions that visitors form of your webpage, how long they will spend on your site, and whether those page hits translate into sales or meaningful interaction.
Today, the modern tools of website building, which include CSS, provide web designers with considerable control over the typography of WebPages, but designers are nevertheless subject to the limitations of a small number of ‘common’ fonts, which are available across platforms. Choosing one of these typefaces will ensure that your webpage appears uniformly across all browsers, operating systems and devices. Fonts come in an almost limitless number of styles, but can be predominantly divided into ‘serif’ and ‘sans-serif‘ fonts. Serif fonts feature details or elements at the ends of strokes for certain symbols or letters; sans-serif fonts are without these details. Serifs are favored for printing body copy because the serifs assist reading flow.
A professional designer will spend a considerable period of time evaluating the importance and effect of a font for your website, because it is a decision that can make the difference between a successful and failed website. Have you ever been deterred from reading a webpage because the content is displayed in size 14 Comic Sans? Few fonts are as widely loathed as Comic Sans, which is a highly readable font but considered ugly, unsophisticated and an example of bad kerning, but nevertheless a poor font choice will immediately cause visitors to exit your website without giving further consideration to your brand or company. On the other hand, good looking, readable and clear text will keep them reading and engaged with your content.
When choosing a font package, it is important to select one which is simple, practical and easy to read. Impact typefaces and space typefaces have no place on a truly professional and modern website. Many web designers choose traditional typefaces such as Arial, because it is a sans-serif typeface that looks clean and professional when positioned with good vertical spacing, and is well-proportioned and easy to read. To draw attention to vital information such as calls to action, bold, oblique or italic typefaces are effective when used sparingly. 12 point Arial, according to a study carried out by Wichita University, is the optimal font for reading large bodies of text because of its sharp and legible appearance. On the other hand, Times New Roman was found to be the easiest font to read at speed, enabling users to absorb more information with greater comprehension. Of the common sans-serif fonts, Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Lucida and Trebuchet MS are the most widely used; of the serif fonts, Times New Roman, Times, Book Antiqua, Cambria, Garamond, Baskerville and Georgia feature most heavily in websites. All of these are clean, legible fonts which will display well across platforms.
When constructing the text layout of your website, do not use more than three fonts. You should designate one font for hyperlinks and text, and another font for headings, subheadings and attention-grabbing lines. If you must use a third font, retain it for minimal usage in captions, call-outs, pull quotes or testimonial quotes. Once you have chosen fonts, determining its typography – the kerning, leading and its readability (influenced by number of characters on each line), colors, etc. – will also determine how easy your content is to read and understand.
About Guest Author:
Sam is a marketer who enjoys blogging about a variety of industry topics. He is intrigued by social media and SEO and has recently joined forces with a conversion optimization service in order to make his site more intuitive to customers.