The Surprising Power of Typography in Shaping the User Experience

Larayne Dumlao, Senior Visual Designer

Did you know that it takes under a second to form an opinion of a website? It’s this first impression that can make or break a user’s visit, or even a potential purchase. But what is it that consumers are scanning for at first glance? Layout, font, imagery, are what initially capture users’ attention, and among these design features is the most key player in crafting your site’s overall appeal: typography.

Typography is an art and a science. It’s the style and arrangement of written content which affects the legibility, readability, and appeal of text.

At the core of typography is font. Each font has specific design attributes such as weight, style, and width that make it unique. A font family, also known as typeface, is a set of one or more fonts that share these common design features.

Ultimately, typography brings words to life and alters the way messages are perceived. Take the sentence below:

This black Arial font on a white screen probably made little to no impact on you.

What about now? Did the above typography trigger a different response?

Why is Typography Important?

Choosing the font family for your website is a standard element of a digital transformation. During this stage of the design process, you can decide to either select a free font from a resource like Google, purchase a unique one, or design one from scratch.

How should you go about this creative conundrum? Essentially, you want to pick a typeface that best ties your site together to create a holistic brand and user-friendly experience. Let’s begin by exploring the understated impact of font style.

It boosts the visual appeal of your site

When done correctly, your website’s visual appeal will welcome and encourage users to stay on your page. This can be done by having clean and clear typography which makes it easy to digest information and navigate through pages of content. For ecommerce businesses, it’s especially important that visitors feel comfortable and secure roaming through your site because they will eventually offer up sensitive information like credit card numbers and home addresses. A difference in font can alter the entire look and feel of a webpage; and, implementing the wrong one could create a disconnect between the message you’re trying to convey and what the users are interpreting. This wrong visual communication can significantly downplay your brand’s credibility and affect users’ trust. Take the example below, the poor choice in typography makes the website look uninviting, and even untrustworthy. Would you provide them with your credit card number?

Source: PracticalEcommerce

It is integrated into your brand identity

Brands are fiercely competing for their share of online sales. The best way to make your business stand out in this saturated market is to have a strong and cohesive brand identity. Consumers are discerning — even if only at an unconscious level — of brand identity. For example, take a look below and consider which brand this font evokes:

Walt Disney perhaps? Disney has created such a powerful identity for itself that even the slightest design features are subconsciously associated with the brand. Having a recognizable brand will boost your brand equity and propel your business’ value.

It forms your communication style

Typefaces can help you better communicate with customers. It can be difficult for online retailers to convey a message or embody a brand personality through their site. However, fonts help unleash desired emotions. Results from a recent study prove that consumers have subconsciously formed associations between fonts and emotions. From serif fonts evoking maturity to sans-serif fonts leaving readers feeling at ease, font family significantly impacts how consumers interpret your message.

Where to source your font?

Using a Google Font

Google has an extensive selection of over 900 typefaces for you to choose from. These options are not only free and convenient to implement, but are also compatible with multiple platforms and devices to ensure consistency across channels. Google even licenses and hosts these fonts themselves which saves you time and money down the road.

This copy-paste option is becoming ubiquitous amongst digital brands — resulting in a sea of similar, less impactful, websites. Not only is your site blending into the background, but you could be diluting your brand equity by not communicating with a unique visual language. These familiar fonts make it difficult for consumers to build an original connection with you.

Buying a Font

Purchasing a unique font opens the door to a larger variety of typefaces that can better embody your brand compared to a public one. Did you know that the free Google font, Open Sans, is currently being used on almost 20 million websites? Having an authentic font helps better build upon your brand equity and deliver a cohesive, distinguishable message across all print and digital channels.

Source: RXBAR

Keep in mind that this option comes at a higher price. Besides the typical licensing fees that may vary per site, platform, and font, you also have to select your host, such as self-hosting, which will add another layer of complexity to the project plan.

Creating One From Scratch

Customizing your font family can help elevate your brand even further. With the help of a font designer, you will literally be choosing how to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. A personalized font allows you to truly develop a typography strategy that reflects your brand identity. Plus, you will be saving on recurring licensing fees. Netflix is saving millions of dollars by switching from a licensed font to an internally-created one.

Source: It’s Nice That

Yet, this route requires bringing a third-party agency in the mix during your digital transformation which could prolong project duration, add complexities, and increase costs.

What should your business do?

There is no correct answer. Selecting your first font and web licensing strategy is only the beginning. It’s critical in today’s modern era of typography and brand identity to be considerate of all mediums and touchpoints your brand will be displayed on, as well as the font licensing strategies that are required for each.

However, all three options are sound strategies, and Gorilla Group can accommodate to any of them. We suggest assessing your business-type, brand goals and standards, project timeline, and budget to determine where your priorities lie.

The goal of a digital transformation is to create a seamless and enjoyable online shopping experience for users. Our team can help you find and implement the typeface that effectively speaks to your customers. With consumers judging your website in a blink of an eye, typography is your opportunity to make a great first impression that keeps customers coming back. Remember, when you initially select a font, it’s just a font. But, after you engage a designer to define the many attributes of type, play with multiple font pairings, and incorporate it within your branding strategy, you’ve then created your brand’s unique visual language — all thanks to the power of typography.