Font, or ‘typeface’, is a crucial aspect of your brand. With your website being an online translation of your brand, why wouldn’t you put as much thought and consideration into font and typography, as, say, the colour palette or layout?

Why font matters in web design

When you stop to consider that every word your browser reads is in a font, and that 95% of the information on the internet is in readable form, it’s easy to see how typeface is your brand opportunity not to be missed.

You need to choose the right typeface to strengthen your brand experience and therefore have a better chance of influencing the behaviour you want from your audience and customers.

So which typeface should I choose?

It depends on your brand, and your brand ‘personality’. Font choice is not just about your typography looking nice. It’s about understanding the psychology of certain fonts over others and choosing one that is easy to read on screen, particularly on a mobile device, doesn’t upstage your content, and delivers the right impression of your business.

What is the personality of your brand?

Start by asking what the personality of your brand is. The typeface you choose needs to reflect whatever the attributes of your brand are. Is your brand serious and philosophical, fun and clever, or, perhaps, innovative and exciting?

When it comes to typeface personality types, there are said to be four categories:

  1. Traditional, respectable, reliable – such as old-style print fonts that have been around for a long time, such as Times New Roman
  2. Contemporary, modern, progressive – cleanly designed fonts that do not look in anyway handwritten
  3. Strong, stable, defined – bold and blocky fonts that give the impression of strength
  4. Romantic, elegant, vintage – fonts that have a handwritten-looking quality to them
  5. Themed – fonts specially designed that have unique design characteristics

Let’s look at some typeface examples:

Bodoni font – elegant, historical and timeless, suiting the long-standing, iconic fashion house, Vogue

Phatboy Slim font – futuristic and innovative, as fitting for gaming technology that takes players to other worlds

Helvetica font – reliable and easy to ready, Helvetica is a commonly used font for many brand, for these reasons

Serif or sans serif?

It may help to organise your possible typeface choices by sorting them into the two categories of serif and sans serif fonts. There is a school of theory that says serif fonts are more engaging, easier to read and have an element of continuity. Serif fonts tend also to be more traditional and historical-looking. Again, it will depend on the attributes of your brand, as to which you choose.

Serifs are the feet, or finishing strokes, of a letter. For instance, the Vogue typeface above is an example of a serif font. Panasonic and PS4. are examples of sans serif fonts.

Follow the web design rules

With regard, specifically, to web design, your typeface will need to have excellent readability. Never use blinking text, or all capital letters, and ensure the leading (space in between lines of text) is around 30% of the character height. Space between paragraphs also improves readability, as does certain colour combinations, i.e. try to avoid red and green text.

Summing up on typeface in web design

  • Font, or ‘typeface’, and typography, in web design really matters
  • Your chosen typeface needs to reflect and enforce the attributes of your brand
  • Your typeface should maximise readability
  • Your typeface should enhance, not hinder, your content

Further resources

There are lots of resources to explore about font, typeface and advice on typography. You may also want to consider the psychology of fonts and perhaps explore some free fonts and their font families, to get you started.

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