Typography: An Essential Element of Web Design


photo by GCORE at DeviantArt

Can you really tell the difference in typography on a website?

There are a number of different elements that go into a great website design, but if you took a straw pool of internet users, very few would likely mention typography as being one of those. Layout and ease of navigation are generally at the top if that list, but you have to understand that typography and the specific fonts used can have an impact on both of those, plus many more elements besides. It is often the use of typography that makes it easy to spot a site designed by a pro over one made by an amateur, yet it’s still something that doesn’t always resonate. We are going to talk about how typography is used to great effect in website design, but first let’s do a little experiment. Which of the following two words best displays what the word is conveying: “stop,” or “STOP.” If you chose the first of the two, you may need to make an appointment for an eye examination.

What message does your website say?

When choosing a specific font or fonts for your website, you need to consider what the subject is and the message you are trying to convey. In order to do that, you need to look at the elements that make up how a font looks, which can basically be broken down into the 4 S’s: stroke, slope, size, and space. While they may sound like factors used to score an arm wrestling bout, they are in fact essential to typography.

The details of typography

The stroke is essentially the shape of the letters and how they are put together. Bold letters, such as the second “stop” shown above are often used to convey power and strength. Fonts that have a more delicate, curvy stroke will be used to show off the artistic, elegant side, which is not something that might work well in the website development of a construction company, but which would be great for an interior design business.

ImageThe slope is best described as the angle at which the letters appear, with upright letters again more suitable for companies looking to send a message of strength. Cursive fonts are a lot less rigid, and therefore tend to send a message of creativity and of thinking outside the box. The size is pretty self-explanatory and is displayed in the little experiment that we did above. Space is where things get a little trickier, as the space between each letter and word can deliver a very definite effect. This is known as typesetting and is used to guide the visitor to your site to do a specific thing once they start reading the content. A wider spacing will be used with more thoughtful pieces that require the reader to think about what they are seeing, whereas less spacing is used like a short, sharp shock to the system.

Spruce up your website!

Now that you understand the important role that typography plays in website design, it is time to go put it into practice, or better yet, leave it in the hands of a pro who will be able to deliver exactly what your site needs.