We all know that typography and font choice have a huge impact on website design, but did you know they could be the difference between whether a visitor actually engages on your site or exits as quickly as possible? Perhaps you thought your font choice or the awkward spacing between paragraphs made your site look fancy or unique, when in reality these things have the complete opposite effect of what was intended. Whether you designed your site yourself or hired a professional, there are a number of important things to remember about the typography of your site. The following are the top five reasons why your typography could be turning visitors and potential customers away from your site.
1. Leading and tracking
Line spacing (leading) and letter spacing (tracking) are two big influencers on the readability of your site. The space that different fonts need will vary with font face and size, but these two things are not to be ignored when you are designing your site. We’ve all seen sites in our web browsing with large blocks of text where the lines and letters are way too close together, making the paragraphs seem squished and harder on the eyes. By the same token, there are a number of sites where the spacing is just too wide. Neither scenario allows for easy readability, and may deter visitors from spending time engaging with your content.
2. Double spacing after a full stop
We probably all remember being taught in elementary school that you always use two spaces after a sentence. Guess what? Your teachers were wrong. Double word spacing rose to popularity with the typewriter in the 1800s as a way to clarify the beginning of a new sentence. The typewriter’s monospaced fonts sometimes made it difficult to distinguish between sentences, hence the double word space. Nowadays, appropriate adjustments have been made by typeface designers, and the extra is no longer needed between sentences. Single spaces after each period as well as a capital letter clearly indicate the beginning of a new sentence and improve the general readability of your site.
3. Justified text
This is an extremely popular mistake among web designers. While programs such as Adobe InDesign allow you to improve the look of justified text, you currently cannot make necessary adjustments in CSS. The issue with justifying your site’s text is that it creates huge rivers of space between words and letters in order to make all the lines of text a uniform length. While some designers and site owners may enjoy the symmetry of justified lines, it seriously decreases the readability of your text. Studies have also shown that people have better recall of what they are reading when it is left justified.
4. Capitalization in Headers
Another common mistake that decreases the readability of headers on your site is over-capitalization. Contrary to popular belief, there is no rule saying that you must capitalize every word of your header. In fact, major publications around the world have stopped using this practice because it significantly affects the look of their headlines. Capitalizing the first word of an article title is sufficient.
5. Font face
There are a number of fonts out there that you should completely avoid at all costs. Some of them are simply overused, while others are just plain illegible. The number one thing that you should keep in mind when designing your website is that your typeface needs to be highly readable, otherwise people aren’t going to want to engage. Some of the most overused fonts in web and graphic design on our list are as follows: Times New Roman, Arial, Courier New, and Impact. There are also a number of offenders on the illegible and/or annoying list, including Papyrus, Comic Sans, Curlz, Brush Script, and Kristen ITC. With thousands of font options available, it is best to avoid these ones at all costs.
When designing a website, your main focus should be readability. It is the most basic tenet of good design, and will make a huge difference in whether visitors engage in your content or take a quick glance and decide to go elsewhere.
About the author: Thomas is a long time freelance writer with extensive experience in the technology field. When he’s not reviewing mobile web designers in Chicago, you can find Dirk sharpening his skills on the basketball court.