There was a time when designing was synonymous with artistry, it’s not anymore. Design is a science and a designer is supposed to make conversions, conversions such as potential customer to actual customer or random website visitor to a signed-up member.
So, the question is how can typography help you make more conversions? We’ll find the answer in this article. But first, here’s a brief introduction of the term typography.
Typography is the specialized term for “text designing.” Mind you, content is not a matter of discussion in typography, so “what to say” is not typography’s concern but “how to say it” is.
Things to Keep in Mind
Designing has evolved a great deal in this decade. The advancements being made in digital media industry have totally revolutionized our design methodologies as well. Today, we are not supposed to choose our fonts and colors based on knowledge of their psychological effects.
Today, we choose everything based on conversions. Remember what Steve Jobs said:
“Design is not what it looks like or feels like, design is what works.”
If we are suppose to find working solutions, we need to remember that boring designs maybe the most useful ones. How? We’ll discuss in the next section. Here, I just have a few things for you to keep in mind while we discuss conversions in the coming sections of this article.
3/4 Americans wear corrective lenses. This ratio stays almost the same all over the developed world. That means when we create designs, we create them primarily for the people with non-perfect visions.
On the internet, people are looking for specific information, such as price, specifications and so on. They usually don’t read passages, let alone paragraphs.
People look at your web page as a whole so it’s the overall impression and experience that matters. Every module and every object should be in harmony with the over all layout and design.
Internet users get irritated very easily. If they don’t find their required information immediately, if the website loads slowly, if they don’t like your fonts or your color combination or anything else in your design, they will leave immediately and will not come back.
Fortunately, typography can fix all these problems. Let’s see how
Question: Which Font to Use?
There are millions of free design resources available on the internet and fonts is probably the most common of them all. So which font to use on the latest project? This is the first and foremost question that pops into every designer’s head they take on a new project. It is difficult decision to make, but thankfully there is an answer:
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” – H. L. Mencken
When you target conversions, you must forget everything else. It can be difficult. For instance, let’s presume you have a project in hand and you find one font is really suitable for the brand identity of the project and it also looks great… but you also know that the plain, old, boring Arial will get you more conversions. What do you choose? It’s difficult but Arial is the right choice.
And if you think that a good designer must not have to resort to Arial… guess again. The world’s largest online store Amazon uses pure Arial and Amazon has one of the highest conversion rates in the world.
In the past, Amazon has experimented with other fonts but it turns out, Arial is delivering the best conversion rates. So what’s the answer to our question?
Answer: Built-in system fonts usually provide best conversion rates.
But of course, this is not a one-answer-fits-all kind of a solution. Depending on the nature of your product you are trying to sell or the lead you are trying to generate, you might need to change the fonts.
More on this topic, later. Here, we only need to understand that boring designs can bring great results because they don’t distract normal users. Distracting design, however beautiful it maybe, can never bring great conversion rates. I often say that good designs are silent.
Question: Readability vs. Design – Which is Important?
There was a time when designing was synonymous with artistry. Those days are gone now. Your typeface needs to be readable. Good designing is all about making it easier to read. You are not supposed to show your calligraphy skills or font craft. You are suppose to make the user read it and take action.
Answer: If you have to choose between design and readability, it’s not a good design.
You need to make sure that your typeface should NOT be most memorable part of your design because then it would overlap the message. This trend is so popular these days that it is evident even in logo design.
Question: Does Size Matter?
Well, it always does. Puns aside, font size is of course one of the most important factors of typography, but it has to be synchronized with letter spacing, kerning, line length, line height and leading.
In a study, random visitors were shown a paragraph in 10, 12 and 14 point size. The researchers found that 12pt size was the most reader friendly. What happened was that 12pt seemed the most balanced of them all with logical line spacing and everything else. Also, if you look at the logos above, you can see that the zeitgeist suggest we need balance more than size. Large size and capital letters can actually be counter-productive.
Comics courtesy of The Oatmeal
Unless your intention is to make a shout-like effect, using all caps is usually not a good idea.
Answer: Of course it does, but other factors matter more.
Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines say that mobile apps should use 17pt for paragraph text and line height should be 1.5 times of your font size. Google Material Design has the same guidelines but their suggest font size is 16pt.
Question: What’s the Best Color Combo for Conversions
A research conducted by Nielson shows that colors don’t matter as much as contrast ratio. Smaller fonts and low contrast ratio are the two most common complaints users have from web designers.
Devoulge made a few color schemes for high readibility. Here they are:
Answer: High contrast, dark background and light colored text always works best.
Question: Can We Research for Best Typography Combinations
Now we are reaching the methodology part of this article.
We have figured that sometimes even the simplest and most boring fonts can bring best results. We have also figured that simple black text over white background is most potent color combination when it comes to typography… so should we just stop designing at all? There’s nothing to design anymore. There is!
Using the most old fashioned fonts and color combinations is only good when you are designing a website for the broadest spectrum of audience possible, which is the mass public. This is why Amazon and eBay can afford really average designs because they don’t confuse anyone. In 99% of the projects you get, that won’t be the case so you need to deliver a targeted experience.
If you are designing a jewelry website then you will obviously need a stylish font that the ladies would like. Similarly, a Harley Davidson riders club webpage would need a sharp edgy font.
Depending on your audience, you do need to customize your typography.
Answer: Research is very very very important.
Here are the things you need to find out about your target audience:
- Education level
- Cultural background
- Their level of expertise with tech items
Question: Does Typography Require User Testing?
This is the mother of everything we have studied so far. This is the feedback part. Whether you ask users to test your design or you do it silently monitoring them, you need to do it and keep on doing it.
For instance, we at Designzzz keep tweaking with our social media buttons to find out where do we get most shares and likes. Our social media analytics and google analytics keep us informed about the users’ activity and that’s how we keep improving our conversions.
Answer: The most important practice.
So, let’s have a rundown in the correct order this time.
- Find out the demographics and psychographics of your target audience.
- Design for simplicity and speed, not beauty or art.
- Keep the psychology of fonts and colors in mind.
- A good design is silent, a good design is invisible.
- It is in human nature to be at ease with similarity/familiarity. Choose the fonts that are already familiar to your audience or the ones that look similar.
- Ask the copywriter to write conversion-centric copy for your project.
If your design contains the above mentioned characteristics, your design would be a super hit for sure.
And one more thing before I leave you. When I was doing the research before writing this article, I found many articles that were intended for copywriters but not designers and that’s why I have kept mine strictly to design part. If you’d like to study copy writing techniques for increasing conversion rates, I recommend Niel Patel’s article and Nick Hall’s piece on copywriting for conversions.
And, a video. This is one of my favorite videos of all time. This is Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford. I’m sharing this because at precisely 3:31 he speaks about typography and how it helped Apple become the giant it is. You can skip to 3:31 but I suggest that if you haven’t heard this speech, please do listen to all of it. I assure you, Steve won’t disappoint.