Typography Differences: Good Font Bad Font
Good typography is an essential feature of your store or website design. Poorly set or illegible type will confuse and distance potential customers or clients. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to know what separates “bad” type from “good” type.
Centuries of experimentation and application have left us with a strong set of rules that will help guide you in choosing a typeface and applying it to your design. I want to cover some key steps on how to go about strategizing and effectively using typography to make the user experience of your site an enjoyable, but more importantly, an effective one.
3 Ways to Make Your Typography Effective.
1. Picking your font
When it comes time to finally decide on what font you will be using, keep in mind that typography is communication, and we all know how frustrating a fuzzy message can be.
Think about the product or service you are providing and what characteristics you would assign to your business. Look for typefaces that will embody these characteristics and reflect the personality of your business.
2. Avoid using too many faces
Too many different typefaces on the same page becomes cluttered and confusing. The rule of thumb is to pick two different faces and stick with them. One will be for the body copy, or bulk information, while the other will be for headlines, sub-headers, and other callouts.
The body copy needs to be easy to read, so don’t choose anything too fancy or detailed. Look for faces that have good flow when presented in large quantities, avoid flourishes and letterforms with high contrast. Your second typeface will be used in smaller, shorter instances like headers and sub-headers.
The purpose of this face will be to draw the reader’s attention to those headers and sub-headers, so you can get a little more fancy than with the body copy. Display fonts work well in this category.
Now that you have a couple of typefaces picked out, here are some tips on how to make them welcoming and legible so that your viewer’s have an easy time gathering your site’s information.
Don’t go too small with point size; the bigger the typeface, the easier it is to read. I tend to set my type no lower than 12-14pt when working on the web. Any lower and I feel like older viewer’s may have trouble reading the page.
Contrast between your type and the background it is resting above will also help improve readability. Dark text on a light background is ideal for comfortable reading, though light type on a dark background can create some interest.
In most cases you want to avoid justification.
Justification refers to set type within a column that aligns along both the right and left margin. Often times this tends to produce uneven gaps in the text which cause breaks in the rhythm of the eye as it scans the lines of text.
A Bold Finish
These rules should help you in the beginning stages of your growth driven design.
Using a valid mix of serif and sans fonts with contrasting colors and other HTML values such as emphasis and bold can create interest and keep the flow of content moving.
Like anything, typography will become easier as you get familiar with it, and my best advice would be to think about the message. Typography is by no means a science, and although these rules are meant to guide you, in the end, good typography is what it is, and no set of instructions will make you a perfect typographer.
To quote the great Paul Rand:
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‘Typography is an art. Good typography is Art.’