Web design involves more than just picking a colour palette or graphics. Fonts are an integral part of the overall design, and choosing the right fonts for the right occasion is vital.
There are several font families (typefaces) to choose from, belonging to categories such as Sans Serif, Serif, Cursive or Display and Script. Altogether, you can find over 1,000 Google font families, 2,000 at Adobe, 15,000 at Fonts.com, and 35,000 at MyFonts.com. Each has unique characteristics and should be used in different scenarios. Understanding the fundamental differences between these font families can help create aesthetically pleasing and practical web designs. So let’s look at two main categories Serif and Sans-Serif first.
Serif font families have decorative strokes or tails at the end of a letter stem. These strokes can vary in weight, making some areas of a letter thicker or thinner than others. Serif typefaces are rounded and decorative and commonly used in newspapers and magazines. This is largely because serifs are easily readable when written in small body copy sizes.
Some of the most known Serif font families include:
- Times New Roman
- Playfair Display
Sans serif typefaces don’t have features (serifs) at the end of their strokes: “sans” means “without” in French, sans serif. Therefore, these font families have a more uniform thickness throughout each letter, and are used in more minimalist designs. Also, sans serifs are often used for headings, subtitles, button texts, and other display uses.
Some of the most widely used sans serif typefaces include:
- Open Sans
- Source Sans Pro
- Proxima Nova
Fonts In Varying Sizes And Weight
Typefaces or font families come in varying sizes and weight. In essence, a typeface is a family of related fonts, while fonts refer to the weights, widths, and styles that are each a variation of that typeface. So Roboto is the name of a font family with many variations such as Roboto Thin or Roboto Semi-Bold which are separate fonts.
When using the common term “font”, you have a typeface or font family (e.g. Roboto or Arial), a style (e.g. normal or italic), a weight (e.g. bold or semi-bold) and a size (e.g. 16px).
But now let’s have a look at how you can make the best font choices for your website.
1. Consider The Purpose Of The Font.
Font choice is often based on what the font is used for, e.g. headings or body text. If you know that a font will be mainly used for titles, choose a bold font weight that stands out and is easy to read. If you plan on using a particular font family for all your website’s body text, go with a more versatile typeface that can handle a variety of styles and uses. Make sure each character is easily distinguishable from one another to improve the reading experience on a variety of devices and screen sizes.
2. Consider Your Target Audience.
Fonts can also be used to appeal to a variety of target audiences. When choosing fonts for your website as a consultant, coach or educator, make sure that you select typefaces that are appropriate for the demographic you’re targeting. For example, as a consultant you might want an appearance of professionalism. Serifs are often used to appear more reputable, established, formal, etc. As an educator, teaching teenageers, you might want to use modern and “cool” fonts often found among sans serif font families.
3. Consider The Context Of The Font.
Font choice is also based on the context in which it will be used. For example, if you’re designing a website for business coaching, you might choose a different font family than if you’re creating a website for life coaching. In each case, it’s essential to understand your website’s purpose and target audience before making font choices.
Pairing Fonts for Maximum Impact
When designing a website, finding the right font pairing for maximum impact is also essential. To do this, you’ll need to understand how fonts work together and how they can be used to create different effects.
Familiar fonts make readers comfortable. Font choices that deviate far from the norm, can either create an exciting or a rather unnerving experience for website visitors.
Be careful, having too many fonts quickly comes across as unprofessional, especially if they are on the same page. The best practice is to choose a maximum of two or three fonts to ensure uniformity and clarity throughout your site.
When choosing font pairs or trios for your project, consider these three tips:
1. Use A Typeface With A Contrasting Letterform.
For example, if you’re using a sans-serif typeface like Arial, use a serif font like Georgia to bring attention to the difference in letterforms. This will help create a compelling contrast between your typefaces and make them look more sophisticated and professional.
2. Use Multiple Typefaces In Tandem.
By combining two fonts, you can create striking visual effects that aren’t possible with just one font on its own.
Creating Hierarchy With Different Font Sizes And Styles
Font size and style can also create a website’s hierarchy. If you’re using a headline font family for your H1 to H4, use smaller typefaces in the body to help with readability. Additionally, use different font sizes and styles (accent fonts) to highlight different sections of your website.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to choose the right fonts and create a compelling, professional web design.
Using Typefaces To Set the Mood And Tone Of Your Design
The typeface used in web design can be just as important as the writing of the content itself. Typefaces can help to set the mood and tone of the website, making it easier for users to connect with the content. Selecting a typeface that reflects the message you want to convey can create a robust user experience that draws your audience in.
Additionally, consider how different typefaces can evoke feelings such as trustworthiness, modernity, or sophistication. Knowing how to use typefaces in your web design can significantly affect how people perceive the written content of your website.
Tips For Choosing Safe Web Fonts For Maximum Compatibility
When designing a website, it’s crucial to use web-safe fonts to ensure maximum compatibility across all devices and browsers. Web-safe fonts are standard on most devices and commonly available on different operating systems, thus ensuring that your website will look the same no matter who is viewing it.
Consider using fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, or Georgia to ensure maximum compatibility. Have a look at google fonts which are safe to use as long as they are hosted locally. Additionally, consider your font size and its visual appeal when selecting which typefaces to use.
By selecting web-safe fonts with the right size and suitable design, you can ensure that your website looks just as good on all devices, regardless of their operating system or browser.
Custom fonts can add a unique and creative element to a website. While they may make a website more visually appealing, custom fonts can also have drawbacks. These fonts can slow down loading times, take up more memory, and may not be compatible with some browsers. Consider the pros and cons of using custom fonts before implementing them into your website’s design.
Maximising Accessibility In Web Design
Last but not least accessbility is a factor to keep in mind too when choosing fonts. Using easily legible and recognisable typography with a good contrast between background and font ensures that everyone can access your website.
When choosing fonts with accessibility in mind, consider using simple and easy-to-read typefaces, such as Arial or Times New Roman. Additionally, ensure that the font size is adjusted for different screen resolutions and devices that people might be using to addess your website.
Fine-tuning with Letter Spacing Or Line Hight
Last but not least, with each font choice you can make adjustments by defining the letter spacing, the text alignment, the line height or line length.
Tracking, or letter spacing, refers to the adjustment of horizontal white space between letters in a word or in a block of text. Adjusting letter spacing affects the visual density, either making the words appear more compact or giving them a more “airy” appearance by increasing the white space. Text readability is often improved by increasing the letter spacing.
Line spacing defines the vertical space between two lines of text. Line spacing can make a text more readable because the reader’s eye has an easy time passing from one line of text to the next. How big or small a text’s line spacing should be depends on the typeface, font size, etc.
Line length is basically the amount of characters per line. When a line is too wide, the reader might find it difficult to discern where the line begins and ends. Lines that are too short can break the reader’s rhythm, because their eye has to travel back and forth too many times. Aim for 45-85 characters per line.
Choosing The Right Fonts – Conclusion
Fonts are an integral part of your website. Websites that provided readers with engaging content written in a reliable font catch and retain attention. Choosing a web-safe, suitable font pair with unique characteristics that match your audience’s expectations is vital to create an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly website.