Whatever the text on your website or promotional materials might say, if you don’t use the right typeface there’s a good chance people won’t even bother to read it. Typefaces – or fonts as they’re also known – are one of the most vitally important aspects of any website or printed material’s visual appeal, and also an important aspect of copywriting. There are literally thousands of different typefaces to choose from, such as serif (with curly bits at their ends) or sans serif (without curly bits), classical fonts that resemble handwriting, to big bold fonts that shout out to the reader. Each type face has its own unique character and style that can help reflect your brand’s identity and purpose.
Whether you know their names or not, you’re probably already familiar with some typefaces, such as Helvetica or Times New Roman. They’re the ones you probably use when you’re typing a document in word processing programs such as Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages. There’s a reason we use these fonts when we’re writing – basically because they are inoffensive to look at and easy on the eye when you’re reading several pages at one time. But when you’re looking for a typeface to use as a headline or a subhead you usually want something with a little more impact – such as Impact, for example!
Different typefaces can bring your website to life in all manner of ways depending on its purpose. If you’re selling cars you’ll no doubt want something that leaps out and grabs the reader’s attention from the moment the page loads; if you’re a wedding photographer you’ll want a more classical, refined and elegant font.
For general online use there are around 21 typefaces that are know as web safe fonts. These include the most commonly used fonts such as Helvetica and Times New Roman, ensuring that your website will appear exactly how you intend it to look even if the visitor is using an old or out of date browser.
If you want to use something a little bit different, however, Google’s Font API gives you a greater choice of typefaces, all of which are hosted on Google’s servers instead of relying on them being installed on a visitor’s computer. While this opens up all sorts of unique possibilities for the look of your site it’s always best to try and keep your ideas in check to a certain extent; a font that looks new and exciting today might not be quite so attractive a year down the line.
Despite the sheer number of typefaces available, there are some that have become ubiquitous across the internet, and are best avoided if you want your website to have its own distinct personality. There are also those that have through no fault of their own become universally reviled and will have visitors clicking away from your site the moment they see them – which leads us to offer this one final piece of advice:
It’s never ever appropriate to use Comic Sans.