Font psychology is all about understanding that what font will create what effect in the mind of the reader.
Typography or fonts are one of the most significant, yet much ignored aspect when it comes to creating implausible web designs. A lot of people focus on beauty and artistic appeal of their design, color combinations and practical value but not many consider the importance of typeface. They do not realize that typeface itself delivers a message to viewers.
Font is one of many elements that needs to be taken seriously while making web designs. Fonts have been presented to effect the readability along with possession of power to communicate. Font psychology plays the role of backbone in effectiveness of web designs. Every designer knows that colors have influence on people’s moods, emotions and feelings: they should also know that typeface has the same effect as colors.
Thousands of fonts are available for use by web developers and designers. Choice of font style may seem a random decision but one must know the psychological effect fonts make before any selection. There are two main types of fonts:
- Serif: fonts with tails at the bottom and top of the letters.
- Sans Serif: fonts without tails.
Image: courtesy of Wikipedia.
Both types have different sort of influence on viewers. The study of graphics includes the font psychology, in this article you will learn about the influence of fonts on psychology and guidelines while selecting a typeface. A particular typeface conveys a particular message, it also has a big part in functionality of a design: for instance if you are making a design for a classy and traditional business, serif typeface is the right choice but if you want to portray your business as modern and unique, sans serif typeface should be selected.
The Psychology of Typeface
Everyone relies on the aesthetic value of font while selecting one but it is far more complex than it seems. Typography plays a vital role in user interface, as a viewer spends more time on text than on images or videos. All features related to typography such as spacing between letters, color and size leave a separate impact on viewers that is why typography is considered to be the core element when it comes to designs. Let’s check the types of font’s psychology to understand the impact of fonts on user’s mind. Following are the types of psychological impacts of font;
Visual Rhetoric of the Text
Rhetoric is the study of using the language efficiently and convincingly. Visual rhetoric includes the whole impression of a document. Visual elements create their own semantic links giving a broader detail of what is being presented.
Semantic Memory in Font Psychology
Semantic memory creates information and saves the memory of a particular thing. When you see a font that you had seen in past, your semantic sense begins to generate the same effect that font had before.
Studies have shown that emotional condition of a reader’s mind is result of user experience. Fonts have the power to affect the overall look of a document and different fonts having different emotional impact on reader should be selected with great consideration. Selection of a wrong font type can cause the reader to experience negative emotions.
Guidelines on How to Improve Typography
Image courtesy of Absolute Graphics UK.
One of the most imperative element of appropriate reading is the line spacing. 30-60% size of your font is most suitable for reader’s eyes. If you have selected a 12px font size then keep the 4-6px distance between the lines to make the text easily legible.
Try to make your lines short, long lines can cause to destroy the reader’s interest. The appropriate line length is 45 to 65 characters per line which is almost 7 to 10 words.
White spaces in a document are the most important factor when it comes to user interface. If white spaces are wide enough then it would be easy for reader’s eyes to continue reading without getting tired and putting effort.
There should be a steady flow in the content from header to footer. This will generate a rhythm and make the document more attractive for reader.
The vertical hierarchy guides the reader from the first heading till the last one smoothly. The concept is to enhance the readability and present the content of document in a reader-friendly format.
Font psychology is all about the understanding the personality of the fonts. The personality of a typeface differs with the kind of content. For instance, Times would be used for a document such as job application to make it more traditional and official and Verdana would be used for something contemporary and less official.
The size of typeface is a very important element in typography. The emphasis on something can only be shown through font size, such as the important things like headings and titles should be in bigger font than the rest of the content. In this way the user may know in a glance what that document is all about.
Tone of Conversation
The choice of font is the link to make a conversation with the reader. The tone of conversation depicts who you are and what you are trying to tell in the context. It allows the reader to communicate with you. With the conversion in tone you can change the conversation from formal to friendly or from violent to consolatory.
Colors hugely affect font psychology. Color is another most influential element of typography. It can deliver the message the context contained in just a glance to viewers. The selection of suitable colors can enhance the readability of the document.
Subconscious thoughts can be shown by using colors and size of typeface. For instance a red underline instantly take our mind to failure. Similarly the addition of subconscious thoughts in text using color, size and type of font is very important.
Best typography includes two factors; one is Legibility (the uniqueness of words, phrases and letters) and Readability (how easy it is to get the message from context). Selection of font should be in accordance with enhanced legibility and readability.
Format of text is another powerful factor in typography. A study conducted by Tinker and Paterson in 1929 proved that line length between 3 to 3.5 resulted into fastest readability and longer line lengths certainly makes it difficult for readers to read till the end.
The wrong selection of font can result into a torture for reader’s eyes and cause him stress. The suitable typeface will not only make it easy on reader’s eyes but also help him keeping himself relaxed.
The relevance of elements of typography is very important factor. The appearance of whole document depends on it. The change in font style, color or size should not be abrupt and sudden. It will break the continuity of the content and effect the readability. Also the font should be chosen according to the format of the text.
While selecting a typeface, it should be kept into notice that the font is eye catching and attractive. The one which appeals most to your eyes and relate to the format and need of the content should be selected.
According to their use in blogs.
Each typeface conveys a particular message and is used by a particular type of content.To understand it in a better way let’s see some examples.
Serif represents an authoritative message. Mostly blogs use this font to convey their message in a commanding way.
Check out more examples of serif fonts at Wikipedia.
Sans serif is of universal nature. It is used by the blogs as they are universally read, it helps the content easily understandable.
More examples of sans-serif fonts available on Wikipedia.
Slab serif is a sign of strong communication. It is used where the emphasis is needed and to delivers the message powerfully.
To know more about Slab Serif, please consult Wikipedia.
Script is used for elegance. It is usually used by the art blogs, film industry, music biz and other sites related to creativity.
Samples of script fonts are available on Wikipedia.
Modern is used to give a stylish impression about the content. It is commonly used by the corporate and fashion world.
According to their use in brands
Cadillac’s use of script depicts their image of sophistication and elegance. It gives the viewer an impression of trust and reliability.
Disney’s use of display shows that they certainly know how to present the bold image and make it eye catching.
Google’s use of serif shows the message they deliver which is simple yet respectful. Google is the sign of reliability and the selection of serif font certainly conveys the message.
Hulu selected the modern font to give an impression of being bold and up to date. Its logo has a compelling impact on users to grab their attention.
Linkedin chose the sans serif to give an easy to understand and elegant impression. The sans serif font conveys a simple and business like impact which completely fits on LinkedIn.
Fonts which are comparatively less fluent and hard to read like Bodoni can affect the readability and result into lack of attention and enthusiasm in reader.
Clean fonts like Arial are easy to understand and read for users. It allows the reader to analyze and comprehend the message more comfortably. This font is beneficial for company’s description or manuals.
There are a few fonts which do not fall in either serif or sans serif’s category. Most of them depend on geometrical forms. These kinds of fonts appear to be simple and clean but at the same time they give the impression of impersonal and detached. This type of fonts include Futura, Helvetica and Gotham.
It is an old style of font and may appear to be classy and traditional but they may also bore the readers with their lack of diversity. These typefaces are the oldest and mainly based upon calligraphy. Palatino and Garamond are the examples of this kind of typeface.
It is a slab serif type and heavy versions of Rockwell delivers the message of authority and power.
This font type has an urban impact. Courier is the font of old computer printouts and old typewriters. It conveys a message of comfort and ancient times.
Comic sans is an informal typeface and gives a childish impression (probably that’s the reason designers hesitate to use it). It depicts effort the of the graphic creator trying to snatch the attention of viewers. This typeface cannot be used by corporations and businesses. This typeface appears as if it is mimicking the hand writing.
Combination of Fonts
Another imperative factor while choosing a typeface for web designers is the use of more than one fonts to enhance the beauty of their design. There are a few things a web designer must be aware of while using multiple fonts. Selecting two constructive typefaces is a skill, if you use two fonts which are noticeably different from each other then it can create tense impact about the design. If the fonts are much similar then the whole message will be faded.
The solution to this problem is to select one typeface as serif and the other as sans serif. This way you will achieve the balance between two fonts. But the use of more than two typefaces should be avoided as I said earlier that it is a skill and the use of too many different fonts can make your design too exhaustive instead of enhancing the aesthetic value.
Certain kind of typefaces are appealing for certain audience. The typeface seems attractive to a person according to his mood and emotions. For instance women are more inclined to fonts with tails or they tend towards those fonts which appear stylish and current. It shows the emotional state of their minds by which they select a font.
The size of the typeface also conveys a message to viewers, for instance larger fonts seem non-serious and conveys an impression of insecurity as if the author simply want to fill the page. On the other hand the smaller fonts leaves a good impression and are best choice for delivering powerful messages. So take guidance from the above tips and select a typeface which is best appropriate for your document.