For any designer, it’s important to understand how to control the emotions and perceptions that are created with a design. From colour to layout and imagery, everything within a design is a way to impact the viewer to think and feel in a certain way. A font is no different.
Consider a font the way you would consider an outfit. Based on what you wear, others are likely to draw conclusions about your personality, the people you associate with, your age and your wealth. Different occasions call for different outfits – you wouldn’t go for the same outfit for a professional environment as you would for a social engagement. The same goes for fonts.
As a designer, you’ll need to consider a lot of factors when choosing a font.
The first thing to consider is the readability of your font; its most basic requirement is to be read. There are two main families of fonts, and that is Serifs (which have the detail of a short line at the tops and bottoms of the lines) and Sans Serifs (those without the added line detail). There’s a general rule of thumb that guides designers on the first step to a font choice, and that’s medium.
For Web, it’s usually recommended that designers use a Sans Serif font. This is because the simple shapes show up more clearly on a screen. With the potential for low-resolution screens and small logos, it’s best to avoid the extra clutter that a Serif font can bring.
For Print, the added detail of a Serif font can actually make printed media more readable. It adds an individual characteristic to each letter which makes them easier to distinguish, preventing eye fatigue.
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. There are some Serif fonts that are perfectly readable on screens, and some Sans Serifs work beautifully in print.It’s then the job of the designer to choose one that works in situ.
There’s also the added consideration of script and decorative fonts. These are great for some added flair in a headline, but aren’t suited to body copy as they’re easily misread.
The next thing to consider is the impression your font is giving off to readers. Imagine your bank website written in Comic Sans – there’s a loss of credibility, professionalism and trustworthiness even though the rest of the design and content remains the same.
Serif fonts usually give the impression of history, formality and tradition. They’re the fonts you’ll see on newspapers and government sites to display an established history.
Sans serif fonts are conversely seen as more modern and informal. For this reason, a brand modernisation will almost always incorporate the adoption of a sans serif font.
Script fonts are those that resemble handwriting. They’re sometimes used to add an authentic, personalised touch to sites.
Decorative fonts are a large category with lots of diversity – they’re essentially anything that isn’t in the above. They are the big, bold fonts that evoke certain time periods or styles. These fonts are illustrative rather than informative.
The choice is usually self-evident to start with. A script font would never be appropriate for a hospital website, but might be perfect for a restaurant. Just as you would apply an audience analysis to your marketing, your font choices should be designed to speak to your audience and fit with the identity you’ve chosen.
Now your site is readable and has the identity you need, there’s one final thing to consider when choosing a font. The typefaces that you choose can greatly affect your user experience, which will have a significant impact on the actions they take. In research by psychologists, groups were shown two versions of the same content with image placement, font and layout changed.
It was found that reading the poorly designed page activated the emotional part of the brain, causing negative reaction. Although both examples took the same time to read and comprehend, the readers felt that the better laid out page was easier to read and took less time. As a result, the readers were more likely to have better cognitive processes and take action.
Consider things like your layout, weight and type size carefully. It can affect the way your content is read more than you may think. With the big bold fonts comes urgency, with lightweight fonts comes friendliness.
The Zinc Creative team are experienced designers who have worked with hundreds of businesses to take care of the finer details up to the bigger picture. If you’re looking for a design that’s considered from start to finish, speak to us today.
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