Can a font REALLY portray a personality?
Does it ACTUALLY speak to who you are?
Aren't we really getting nit-picky over something insignificant like the shape of an E or a T?
Little known fact - Your font is kinda everything.
You don't realize it because you see type everywhere all day long, but there's a science behind fonts and how they make you feel.
An entire study was done at MIT on the aesthetics of reading. What they found was that good typography really does affect your mood. (And that's the extent of which I will bore you with the science of fonts)
For practical purposes, take a simple example:
Ever notice how different websites make you feel while you're reading online?
If you've never noticed - try it now. Look at this article on Medium vs. this one on Cracked.
What did you notice? How did you feel?
When selecting a font, there's a 100% guarantee that you rely on its aesthetic virtues. It's a subconscious thing, which is why we pay no attention, but we know if it feels good (we keep reading) or crappy (we find something else).
Here's another trick that proves it.
Open one of your recent text documents, select everything you see and change the font to Times New Roman.
Take a moment and realize how the page feels, and now change the font to Arial.
Do you feel anything? Seems like the whole text presentation turned less formal and spacious, doesn’t it?
You can do this trick with any other font you like. Play with it on your website and see how it changes the entire vibe.
The right font choice along with the absence of sidebars and popups makes everything feel easier and better to read. (Easy, chill, no distractions.)
Compared to something almost painful to look at, with numerous competing titles, one bolder than the next. Very little white space. (Crowded, loud, you might even feel physical tension)
So why do we feel this way? It's all the same alphabet, after all.
First things first -- It's all about the AUDIENCE.
Remember when you were younger, you could go to a concert at 11pm on a weeknight and stand there in front with hundreds of other people for hours waiting for the main event? You didn't flinch. It was cool. You wanted that experience.
You wouldn't be caught dead out past 9pm even on a weekend, you get there early enough to get the few seats they've got, and omg can we go somewhere quiet because I can't even hear myself think!?
Different audiences want different feels.
HOW WE READ (more science!):
When we read, our eyes follow a pattern called a Scan Path. Our eyes break sentences up into scans and pauses. And in between, our brains take snapshots of the letters, arranging them into words, and then parses out the meaning all in a fraction of a second.
Why should you care?
Because understanding the way we read is important for designing how words look because you can directly impact someone’s connection to your writing with the right font and layout.
Which can mean the difference between someone getting immersed in your content... or not.
Why the right fonts and layouts make your clients feel good
Psychologist Kevin Larson spent his career researching typefaces and conducted a landmark study at MIT about how font and layout affect our emotions.
They ran experiments with separate versions of the same newspaper - one with a well-designed layout and one that was designed badly.
In a nutshell?
Bad design makes people grumpy and frown a lot.
Good design makes people more focused, efficient, and clear.
Enough evidence. Here's what YOU need to do so your type is making your peeps happy:
1. Choose an anchor font
Your anchor font is the one people will see the most of. This will most likely be your body copy. Every other font will be based around this choice.
Serif Fonts – Letters with short lines coming off the edges. Viewed as more formal and traditional (Think Times New Roman). Best suited for print copy blocks.
Sans-serif Fonts – Letters without serifs / lines. Viewed as informal and playful (Think Arial). Best suited for digital copy blocks.
Script Fonts & Decorative fonts are not ideal for body copy simply because they make it hard to read. Especially on the web. Anything hard to read is a sure way to get people to leave your page. Don't make people work to read your stuff.
2. Pick a font size bigger than 12pt
Unless you're writing a printed book piece or a research paper, the old rules of 12pt font do not apply to computers.
Use something 16pt - 22pt for body copy. A recent study has also shown that larger font sizes can elicit a stronger emotional connection.
Give it a go and see if you feel a difference.
Spacing on the margins, spacing between lines, AND spacing between letters all matter.
The line length is how far your sentences stretch across the page (and conversely how much margin is left blank). The ideal line length should be about the width of a book - 6ish inches.
Too long or too short makes it all too hard to read.
Proper spacing makes your readers feel good. And when they feel good? They stick around. :)
More questions about fonts? This is just the tip of the iceberg (I know), so I'm here to help if it all feels like a lot to take in. Just shoot me an email and we can rock this out for you in no time.
PS - I created a huge 34-page branding guide to help you get clear on what you need to do to take your business to the next level. It’s totally free and includes my entire process I use with my clients. Check it out HERE.