We all know that website design is important; layout, navigation, logo, content, images… they’re all essential considerations when making a website. However, any good web design company knows there’s something else to think about, too: font. The best web design takes into account not only the size of the font, but also the style, making sure that visitors can scan, read, and comprehend your information.
Why is Font Important?
For starters, we have to think about overall credibility. Be honest — would you trust a doctor’s website if they used Comic Sans? Probably not! However, it’s not just about conveying your message and your values. Font is about making your information ‘readable’ – even if visitors don’t ‘read’ text anymore!
Consider that your average visitor is more likely to ‘scan’ text than read it, especially during ‘microsessions’ that take place while they’re waiting for the kettle to boil. In terms of ‘glanceability’, research suggests that bigger is always better. Not only that, but uppercase text requires 26% less effort to read than lowercase, and regularly-spaced text takes 11.2% less effort to read than condensed text. Even in responsive web design, where we tend to favour things being small, compact, and neat, we should all really be following these three rules of effective, efficient fonts: big, well-spaced, and CAPITALISED!
Some people have called for the retirement of Verdana, which they say doesn’t quite look as good on modern screens as it did on the 640x480 resolution of 1996. However, it’s not quite as simple as that. Consider that Verdana — along with Georgia — were both designed for screen reading, while Times New Roman and Arial were primarily designed for print. This matters. In fact, of these four different fonts, Verdana has actually been shown to perform best in terms of eye-tracking. Not only does the font draw the eye, it also helps to make digital information easy to scan, read, and absorb for modern, online audiences.
Font in Web Design
When designing a website, we can use font research and eye tracking studies to our advantage. It’s possible to use eye catching, easy-to-scan fonts to ‘highlight’ action words, for example; those pieces of text that encourage visitors to do something, such as clicking a link, signing up for a newsletter, or even making a purchase. Action words singled out by their font can be much more effective and powerful.
However, there is one important rule to remember: never use more than 2 or 3 different fonts. This can result in a ‘ransom note’ type effect, which probably isn’t the sort of look you were hoping for!