Sep 19, 2021

Choosing the Right Fonts for Website – A Guide

Choosing the Right Fonts for Website – A Guide

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You never get a second chance to make the first impression. 

It is something that we have heard people reiterating and applying for almost every aspect of our lives. It includes our websites too.

It doesn’t matter if you are a SaaS or an E-commerce brand, but when a visitor first visits your website, the first aspect that he notices is the layout and the font. So it becomes crucial for you to hit the bull’s eye while designing your website.

Designing is an intense and cumbersome task as it encompasses an array of aspects that work in tandem with each other. 

Some people may prefer Google fonts, whereas others may opt for typography or cursive. But whether it works or not depends on the other factors involved in the designing process. You have navigation, font, layout, colour schema, legibility, and so much more. 

As for fonts, they are omnipresent on a web page. You will find them as headers, body texts, and everywhere else. So choosing the right fonts can leverage your overall website outlook. 

Today, we will discuss how you should choose fonts for websites.

Importance of Choosing the Best Fonts for a Website

Your font is your brand ambassador

You only have 0.5 seconds to ensure that your visitor has a positive opinion about your website and font choices. A majority of it, 94% of it is dependent on the design elements.

It is imperative to understand that each font comes with a unique set of characteristics. So if you want to convince visitors about your expertise, it becomes essential to do it through the website’s design language and fonts’ choice.

It helps in augmenting the overall user experience

Why do we spend time and resources on building a website? Because we want our visitors to be comfortable while using it.

Building an impeccable user experience will require you to have a keen eye for details. It also means stepping into the shoes of your visitors and gauging if a particular design choice would work for them. 

Choosing good fonts for web design is an integral part of it all. It can help you generate more visitors, higher conversions, and improved overall satisfaction.

Classification of Fonts for Web Page

Classification of Fonts for Web Page
Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels

We have already mentioned that every font style has its own story and characteristics, meaning you can classify them into several groups. Also, there are a plethora of paid and free fonts for you to choose from and add to your web page. 

We can distinguish website fonts into the following categories –

Serif

Examples – Times New Roman, Garamond, MS Serif, Merriweather, Abril Fatface, Playfair Display, Georgia

The Serif fonts are one of the oldest font types known to human beings. The Renaissance-inspired fonts were famous in the old days for their high readability.

The modern-day Serif fonts carry the same legacy, albeit digitally too. You can recognise them by noticing the transverse or diagonal line endings. It adds elegance to the design language and makes it an excellent choice for books and formal websites.

Most designers utilise these fonts for additional content elements or those that pop on their web pages. So you are more likely to find them as headings, subtitles, logos, and similar texts.

Sans-serif

Examples – Arial, Alegreya, Open Sans, Montserrat, Comic Sans, Verdana, Oswald, Roboto, Lato, Helvetica

The Sans-serif typefaces are the modern iteration of the Serif. As the name suggests, these come without the serifs, elevating a minimalist feel. In the initial days, the computer displays weren’t advanced enough to present serifs in their original form. So designers discovered fonts that were more conveniently presentable for digital reading.

Sans-serif also does not tire the readers and offers flexibility to the designers by catering to a broader audience. The most common users of these fonts cater to the young generation and want to be perceived as modern and professional in their approach.

The Segoe UI, the default Windows operating system font, is a Sans-serif font style. Base 9 & 12 is one of the most popular Adobe font types you are likely to come across, and it belongs to the Sans-serif category. SF Pro, one of the most popular typefaces on the Apple platform, also belongs to this category. 

Slab Serif

Examples - Sentinel, Clarendon, Adelle, Arvo

A type of Serif font, also known as the Slab Serif as the Egyptians font. These are blocky and sturdy-looking font styles with a lower contrast ratio than the traditional Serif. 

Depending on the font style you choose, these can range from the old-school retro to a more contemporary outlook. Usually, you will find Slab Serif as a part of the display text, but these can also be used for setting body text. 

Script

Examples – Arizonia, Tangerine, Great Vibes

As the name suggests, script fonts are the closest thing to human handwriting. They are ornate, and you will often find them adorning the website’s headings, logos, and similar short phrases.

Also, these can be considered informal. The most exciting fact about Script fonts is their high emotional charge. These can evoke a reaction (specific, in most cases) and garner a lot of attention from visitors.

Given their complexity, they have limited usage. However, most well-designed websites use them to augment the overall feel.

Decorative

Decorative

Example – Helios, Casandra, Cherie Bomb, Countryside

Also known as display fonts, decorative fonts refer to diverse fonts that do not necessarily share common characteristics. The only shared way of identifying them is by noticing their elaborate shape and high ornamentation.

These became popular in the 19th Century and have since been a constant for web design and advertisement purposes.

Unlike other font types that can assimilate themselves in diverse situations, decorative fonts have their limitations, i.e., each one of them emanates specific emotions (happiness, horror, or any other). These are original fonts that are highly expressive and easily recognisable.

These are bold fonts that you can use only in headers, and we suggest against using them for your website’s body text. Imbibing them in a minimalistic way for web design would enable the website to stand out and have a lasting impression on the visitors.

Difference Between a Typeface and a Font

The common notion is that typeface and font have the same meaning, but these are not synonyms. The former refers to a family of fonts with shared characteristics and features, whereas the latter refers to an individual font. 

For example, Arial is a typeface, and 16pt Arial Bold is a font. 

Things to Keep in Mind While Choosing the Default Fonts for a Website 

We all know that there are a plethora of impeccable paid and free fonts in the world. But while designing the website, there are many more things at play, and you cannot pick one that you love. Selecting the best font for websites is a holistic affair and requires thorough research and understanding of the other elements in play.

Here are the things that you need to consider while choosing the best fonts for a website –

Get the basics right

Before looking for good fonts for websites, you must sort the other things involved. These include; 

  • Understanding your target audience
  • The website’s purpose
  • The reason for your brand’s existence 
  • The personality that it carries

A brand like Amazon will not utilise a Horror font (except on specific occasions, such as Halloween). The type of font you use depends mainly on your target audience and the emotions you want to generate. 

For example – Sans-serif fonts denote minimalism and simplicity. They also bring about your inclination towards traditional values and flexibility. Serif typefaces have a decorative stroke that represents formal representation. 

Make sure that your choice is in sync with your design purpose

There is a purpose behind everything, and your website design has one too. Your choice will ultimately depend on your target audience and the overall mood you want to evoke via your website. Also, several design elements play a vital role in the overall presentation of your web pages. 

So here are the elements that you will have to keep in mind –

Kerning, leading, and tracking

These three terms refer to the spacing elements in a website. Kerning denotes the space between two adjacent letters. Leading defines the space between lines of text, and the spacing between groups of letters is known as tracking. The spacing you choose enables you to ascertain the look of your typeface.

Contrast

Contrast, with regards to websites, refers to the presentation of the text. Website designers use a host of subtle techniques to make some elements stand out. These include colour, form, size, structure, and weight to augment the critical areas.

Contrast
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Alignment

Alignment refers to the way you place the text on a website. It can either be left, right or centre. A fully justified text presents a more formal approach, whereas the ragged method suits a website that intends to be more informal and friendly. 

Usually, the left-aligned text is the most readable. Another aspect to keep in mind is the distance between the sides of the text block. You can set the optimal line length by setting an average character count of up to 80 characters (including spaces).

If you are looking for a more formal look, you can go for a fully justified text. It lines up the typeface evenly on both sides and eliminates the sense of disorientation.

Use typefaces judiciously

Given the multitude of typefaces and fonts on offer, there is a high chance of you getting lost while making your design choices. So you must take a step back and understand the end product you want to create.

The next step is to style the typeface accordingly. These design choices reflect the audience you are catering to and serve a basic understanding of your brand’s approach.

Use typefaces judiciously
Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels

So when you are finalising the design elements, ask yourself questions like - 

  • What is the nature of your brand?
  • Do you want to put more emphasis on practicality, or are you looking to stand out?
  • What kind of graphics will your website contain? If it is graphics-heavy, you can tone down the front part and let the rest do the talking. If it is the other way round, make sure your font choice evokes the emotions you want. 
  • Is it project-based? If yes, what kind of assignment is it, and what are the requirements involved?

Do not forget to consider the load times

Slow sites equal low traffic. Not many possess the bandwidth to wait for your website to load one element after another. Getting the design elements wrong or going overboard with design choices can make your site sluggish and dampen your engagement.

If you are suffering from high loading times, you should look into the number of typefaces and styles you have adopted. Make sure you choose only those necessary.

Choose web-safe fonts

The choice of website fonts is often a representation of how you portray your brand. For example, global brands like Amazon, Microsoft, and Disney use distinct fonts that have become synonymous with them.

Even if you cannot do the same for yourself, it is imperative for you to make sure your choices are considered web-safe. The term represents a set of dynamic fonts that can adapt to different environments. In simple terms, these typefaces can be displayed on a reader’s screen even if they do not have them installed on their devices.  

If you do not use one of them, the browser would revert to a generic font kept as a backup and display your web content in it. It can result in functionality and design issues, lead to incomplete messaging and haunt your brand.

A few years ago, it was challenging to find enough web-safe fonts, but today there are a plethora of paid and free fonts for you to choose and imbibe. 

For example, Times New Roman and Arial are web-safe fonts belonging to Serif and Sans-serif categories, respectively. If you are looking for something decorative, Script MT and Luminari are adaptable fonts belonging to the Cursive and Fantasy categories, respectively. 

It is Time that You Use a Mix of Fonts for Best Results

Choosing the best web fonts for websites is about calculated mixing and matching. With each font having its characteristics, we suggest you choose up to three different fonts (primary, secondary, and tertiary) in a way that ultimately exudes class and why you exist.

Add to that the factors like kerning and leading, and you have a lot of legroom to get it right. It is also crucial to understand that some fonts work well in pairs, whereas others don’t. So there is no shortage of choices, but you will have to ensure that it goes in sync with your brand’s vision.

Also, given the dynamic usage pattern of internet users today, it is imperative to use web-safe fonts to adjust to the screen size dynamically. It ensures that the end-users see the web page as intended, even if they do not have the particular font installed. 

Ultimately, font choice depends on numerous factors, and you will have to strike the right balance to get the best results.

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