Web Typography

This post is a follow-up to Lisa’s blog about typography for print. I’ll be focusing on typography for web.

When you think about type you have to consider that your choices reflect your brand, because aside from the logo and menu, the type you choose is what will appear on every page of your site. Whether its sturdy or light, italic or bold, it will help the consumer know more about what they are reading. When pairing types, you have to consider what those types are saying together about your brand.


Past Print Experience

One of the things I learned early on as a print designer for a local university, serves well in web typography as well: if you have a great big picture of a cool, happy student, you don’t need to write “Cool, Happy Student!” in your headline. The prospective student looking at your brochure can already see that in the image—instead, make a statement that helps explain why the student is happy. For that statement, I’d choose type that parallels the value of the education being offered.

Often I’d choose bold clean fonts with a bit of the unexpected, something a young person would notice, and that could separate our school from the five other comparable schools in the area. For the body, I’d choose a light font that would make readers look just a little bit harder to make them really concentrate on the copy. This contrasted the big title, which carried the concept, and the body, which carried the proof of concept. The large font showed we were “cool” and “trendy”—like the students applying—while, the light font contrasted with it by being more focused and detailed, conveying the school’s focus on providing an individual learning plan for each of its students.


Applications in Web Typography

Likewise, when designing for web, typography fulfills the same function of saying a little more about your brand. Different parings serve different functions: a classic font pairing speaks to the longevity of brand, while a modern san-serif tells your audience that you’re a part of the culture in the here and now. As a designer, I ask myself what about this company is unique? Why are they different, and how can I show people that this company is something special in comparison with any of the thousand companies who have a web site?

Typography gives me a chance to say more with less. I can create a setting with letterforms and know that, even after we hand over a website, any additional text the client adds, any blog they write, is going to be a visual representation of the brand. Each new page or sidebar will carry with it a piece of branding—it’s simple but powerful.