When designing a website there are many decisions which must be made in order to create a design which ensures that the information is easy to understand, and well received by the user. The site needs to serve the clients purpose regardless if they’re selling shoes, publishing information about flea medicine for pets, or running a competition. Everything on the site needs to be designed in way that makes it easy to understand, and doesn’t make people leave when they get to the site.
This can be influenced by many aspects from the colours, layout, images used, and even the kind of fonts used. Many inexperienced designers will make the mistake of overlooking the fonts used on a website simply because they don’t think it really matters. Nothing could be further from the truth in fact. Fonts are an extremely important part of any design, including web design. It’s important to carefully consider the fonts within your website for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the fonts on the site need to be easily read. If the font you’ve chosen to use in your design slows down your ability to read the content even by the smallest amount, then do not use it!
People these days are time poor, and certainly don’t want to sit there and try to decipher the information on the site just because of the fancy font that’s been used. They’ll probably just get sick of the entire thing and leave altogether, and that’s not beneficial to anybody.
Make sure that you choose a font that’s easy to read, and not too unusual, that way people won’t get distracted by it and they can just concentrate on the content of the actual site.
Let’s say you’re designing a website, and you find this sweet font that looks so cool and unique and really suits the design too. You install it on your system and design the whole site with this custom font you found. But when a user visits the site, and they don’t have the custom font installed on their system, things really start to go wrong in a big way. Here’s what might happen.
The user might get a prompt from the browser saying “hey you don’t have this font installed, do you want to go find and install it?” in which most people will say “hell no” and leave. I know that’s what I would say. There’s no way on the planet I would let some strange website start installing ANYTHING on my system ever!
The most likely result will be that the browser will just say “hey we don’t have this font… What what should I do? Oh well I’ll just replace the font with a default system font”. All of a sudden your design looks completely different! The font that the browser replaces it with has different letter spacing, it’s slightly taller than before and now it’s making your design look really weird because it’s interacting with elements of the layout in unexpected ways! Most likely the font it’ll choose to default to is “Courier” too! For those of you who don’t know your fonts, Courier is the font which looks like really old-school typewriter printing and it’s hideous! Now your whole website looks like junk because although the presentation of the layout is nice, the text looks like it’s been produced by some World War 2 era typewriter! Rest assured people will leave the site and never come back when that happens.
How do you decide?
When you’re deciding on a font to use for your site, there are only a few decisions to make, and they’re really easy. First decision is if you should use a Serif font, or a Sans-Serif font. Serif’s are the little fancy edges that appear on more contemporary fonts. Just Google is and you’ll instantly understand what I’m talking about.
So a Serif font is a more contemporary style font, and a Sans-Serif font is a more modern style font. Just remember it by thinking Serif = fancy edges, Sans-Serif = without fancy edges.
There are a lot of different fonts to choose from within that range, however try to use a relatively common system font. Don’t choose one that’s ugly, there are many nice quality system fonts which you can specify that will mean you won’t have any missing font compatibility issues, and will complement your web design just fine.
If you follow these simple rules you’ll never have any problems with the fonts used within your web designs. The information will always look neat, clean, and will be easily read by your visitors. The font you choose may seem like a very minor thing, but try to remember that all of the content on your site is communicated to the user via the text on your website! So in many ways it really is one of the most important aspects of the entire site.
If you’re still unsure on how to choose a font for your website, or for any other advice relating to web design, please feel free to contact me via the link below.