“Perfect typography is certainly the most elusive of all arts. Sculpture in stone alone comes near it in obstinacy”, Tschichold.

Typography is a crucial part of the design, but ironically, it is usually not well thought out but is rather at the bottom of the totem pole. You can create brilliant illustrations, photos and other graphic content but if the typography on your website sucks, it will easily turn the reader away.

On the other hand, good typography will make sure your website delivers the right message and communicates well your content with the audience. It can make your website successful and effective or completely unproductive.

When talking about typography, we don’t mean just choosing and using the font, it’s about arranging all typographic elements in your design. For example, the visual hierarchy, the grid, the contrast, the whitespace, the font choice and font size etc. All of typographic elements effect your design on both micro and macro level. Typography sets difference between the professional and the amateur design. Let’s take a look at these 5 arguments why typography truly matters so very much:

1. Typography is inevitable part of your design

As soon as you start browsing fonts, setting grids and arranging elements on your page, you are messing with typography. It requires much attention and thought, so think well about your work before you use default fonts and default line spacing or crowd your page with elements etc. It can take so much from your design, but if you put just a tiny bit of effort like you do when choosing colours, photos and other, it can add wonders.

Font Leading
Example of how changing leading effects easiness of reading
Example of how different fonts effect easiness of reading

2. Typography expresses personality and is a part of your identity

The way you construct your grid, the fonts you choose, the way you arrange letters- it all gives a certain character to your website. Typography lets you create a certain atmosphere and have a personality. You can be modern, vintage, romantic, shy or tough just by choosing right typeface and arranging it correctly. Work with your type so you can express your identity. This is something that will be associated with you. Be sharp and specific, pick fonts and letter arrangements you will be recognized for.

Font and Emotion
Different fonts evoke different emotions

3. Typography determines readability

Your content can be delivered to your goal audience easily and consumed effectively, but only if your text is readable. There are some macro typographic factors that determine readability, such as the font design and its size, the spacing, the leading, the contrast, the line length, the paragraph alignment and justification and background. If for example your paragraph line length is too long, readers will most likely give up on reading because studies have shown that the human eye feels comfortable reading maximum of approx 66 letters in one line. Another example that I come across often is website with text set in shade of grey that is too light so that the contrast between the text and the background is too low. This is also too tiring for the eye. You should know how to please reader’s eyes and manipulate typography in that way and you will have a successful website.

Line Length
Proper line length makes text easier to read

4. Working with typography displays professionalism

All of the best and most noted designs have one thing in common- they are a display of a good typography. One can usually tell if someone is a good designer or not just by checking on how he or she treats typography. Awareness about typography is not just that, it gives you a perspective that is applied to all other aspects of design. Typography is attention to both detail and big picture, it bonds function with aesthetics. It requires thought and understanding.

Type Hierarchy
On the left we have one of many examples of how not to work with type to get optimal results

5. It is the essential part of communicating

Since most of the information on the web is written, it is typography that presents your website’s content and guides the reader through it. Communicating information is what we do so it is easy to see that working with type should be a great deal of the design process. Type will always be communicative, but you can manipulate it in a way that fits your goals. Exploring visual aspects of type can make your design really shout even while bringing changes on a really subtle level. It can effect the readers’ moods and emotions and evoke reactions. It is a part of visual communication that most often passes unnoticed and unthought-of by the reader, but that actually is the art of a good type.

Type Communicating
Different fonts make give your text completely different character

Typography is a powerful tool

Typography is a beautiful way to bring into symbiosis visual and verbal language. It is both art and science. It has a great power but can be at the same time very subtle. Studying typography will bring a new perspective on working with anything other than type, too. It is the art which goes back hundreds of years and has evolved as human communication has.

Good typography will bring a strong foundation to your design and a unique experience for the reader. Web design consists very much of written information and since it is being brought to the reader with letters only, choosing and arranging letters in a good way is a designer’s responsibility. Once you get to know it better, you will understand its potential and begin to appreciate it much more. It will help you more effectively create, communicate and convey a message.

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