Avoid These Five Typography Mistakes
February 13, 2019
by ACL Creative Studio
Typography is sometimes overlooked, but it is one of the most important elements of marketing and design. If you need evidence of just how much typography can affect people’s perceptions of your business, just look at the negative press Zara has recently received because of their new logo. Bad, hard to read typography can hurt your brand’s image and prevent potential customers from understanding your marketing messages. Good typography, on the other hand, will give your customers a clear sense of your brand’s identity.
If you want to improve your company’s typography, then avoid making these five common typography mistakes.
Lack of Legibility
Zara’s new logo is a good example of this first mistake. The fashion brand completely overhauled their logo and ended up making it much less legible. The old logo had generous spacing, which gave it a minimalist feel. It had a straight, bold serif font that was easy to read. The new logo, on the other hand, is tightly kerned. The curvy font makes the cramped logo even harder to read.
Zara is a already very successful fashion brand, so this probably won’t hurt their bottom line as much as a smaller business. But smaller businesses with less brand recognition shouldn’t risk choosing hard to read fonts. It’s crucial to the success of your business that your customers are able to understand and remember your name, logo and marketing messages.
So how do you make your typography more readable? Firstly, make sure the background and text that you use on your website have enough contrast. If you put thin white text on a black background, for example, it’s going to be hard to read, especially for people with visual impairments. Dark text on a light background, like black text on white, is much more readable. If you really want to use a dark background color, make sure the fonts you choose are thick and bold so that they stand out enough.
Secondly, try to pick readable fonts, especially for text heavy sections of your website and marketing collateral. Sans serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are easier to read than serif fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia. The reason sans serif fonts are more readable is because they don’t have small, decorative lines at the end of each character like serif fonts do.
Lastly, be careful when using transparent effects on your website or in your collateral. Transparent text and background effects can be beautiful design elements, but they’re very hard to get right. You’ll probably want to hire a qualified designer to ensure that any transparent effects you use are executed properly.
Choosing the wrong font sizes can prevent your design from having the visual order it needs to properly communicate your message. Imagine trying to read a news article that didn’t have noticeable headings and subheadings. It would be difficult to figure out what the article was actually about, and you would probably get frustrated and move onto another article with better formatting.
If you don’t want your website to be as confusing as that hypothetical news article, then you need to make sure that your designs have visual focal points. One way you can do this is by making the most important words and phrases a larger font size than the rest of your text. The most important words will be the first thing that your customers see when they visit your website because the bigger text will draw their eyes.
With that being said, don’t try to add too many visual focal points. They’ll compete for attention and end up confusing your customers just as much as an absence of focal points would.
A big part of creating good typography is getting the spacing right. If a body of text isn’t properly spaced, it will be much harder to read.
One of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to spacing is making the lines too close together or far apart. If the lines in a body of text are too close together, the text will look squished. If the lines are too far apart, the text won’t look cohesive and will be much harder for readers to follow.
Improperly spacing your text can also cause other problems. Sentences might get cut off at the end, relocating the last words to the top of the next paragraph. Errors like this can look awkward and make the text less readable, so be sure to fix them.
Using Too Many Fonts
It can be tempting to use a lot of fonts on your website or in your marketing materials. You would think that using several fonts would add visual interest to your design, but more often than not, it just makes your design look less cohesive. Try to limit yourself to using two or three fonts at most. If you want to emphasize certain words or phrases, try bolding them or making them bigger instead of using a brand new font.
Choosing fonts that look good together is more of an art than a science. While there are some general rules that you can follow, you’ll ultimately have to rely on your own intuition (or your graphic designer) to tell you what looks good and what doesn’t.
Using Fonts that Clash with Each Other
One thing you can do to create a good font pairing is choose a distinctive font with lots of personality and a more neutral font to go with it. The neutral font will help balance out the loud, distinctive font. If you want to use a bold, curvy serif font, for example, you should try pairing it with a thin, sans-serif font.
Another thing to keep in mind is that serif fonts and sans-serif fonts often go quite well together. These two types of fonts are different enough that they’ll create the kind of contrast that a successful font pairing needs.
Good typography is vital to the success of your business, so if you’re guilty of making any of these mistakes, try and fix them as soon as you can. Fixing typography on your own can be hard, though, especially if you don’t have a lot of graphic design experience.