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Typography on the Web

These days, web designers are given many more choices when it comes to typefaces. No longer are we finding ourselves deciding between Arial and Verdana, or Times New Roman and Georgia. Services like Typekit allow us to choose from hundreds of fonts from some of the world’s best type foundries. With such services already available and many more on the horizon, web designers are faced with new responsibilities that come with choosing fonts for the web. Here are some tips for web designers when choosing fonts to use in their website designs.

Focus on Readability
Just because there are more available fonts does not mean that they are all suitable for websites. When selecting typefaces for body copy, aim for simplicity and readability. Arial is proven font for web use for many reasons. It is clean, crisp, and remains very readable at smaller sizes because of the high x-height. Stay away from fancy display fonts for body copy. They may have more personality, but after reading paragraphs upon paragraphs of text, the users’ eyes will become strained and tired.

Stick to 3 Typefaces or Less
A well-designed website should not use more than 3 different typefaces. Select a font that will be used for body copy throughout the website. Another font style may be applied to headers. The last font could be applied to other areas of the website such as navigational elements, quotes, sidebars, captions, etc. Using more than 3 typefaces will cause the website to look messy and confusing.

Capture the Message
This rule applies to typography in all applications and is equally important when designing for the web. When selecting a font to use on your website, you should first determine the message, type of website, and the target audience. For example, a corporate website would call for more “serious” and straightforward typefaces, while an online clothing boutique would use fancier script fonts or even playful, whimsical fonts. An easy way to determine the style and mood of the website is to ask your clients for some key words that would describe the personality of their business. Examples of great keywords would be: elegant, formal, regal, chic, spunky, modern, and relaxed.