Web Typography: The Screen Changes Everything

It is undeniable that typography has a widespread impact across publishing mediums. But there are definitely different needs when it comes to designing for print versus designing for web. The screen changes everything.

For example, a font that looks great on screen can look horrible on paper, and vice versa. When it comes to utilizing typography for web design one must keep in mind that most browsers or computers will not facilitate “fancy” fonts. If you want to use a font other than the typical serif and sans serif versions you must transfer your font into an image format (jpg, gif, png, etc.) so that the server will read it as a picture of text rather than text itself. The downfall of this design requirement is that search engine bots will not pick up any keywords that have been transitioned to images, which doesn’t lead to the best optimization.

According to an article at webdesignledger.com the current concern in the web medium is that designers are a little weary to utilize fancy fonts due to the extreme focus on website usability and search engine optimization. Nonetheless, many other designers refer to 2010 as the year of typography. There are more fonts available than ever before and the list is still expanding. Designers are finally beginning to break barriers and use fonts as the main elements of their pages. In today’s market, proper usage and placement of typography can have an even bigger impact on the viewer than traditional imagery such as graphics and/or photos.

There have been a few specific typographic trends that have risen in 2010, which tend to give websites a modern feel. Fonts with softened edges, skinny serifs, and square serifs (which can be viewed at fontshop) are just a few font types that have popularized over the past year.

Another font trend is the usage of slab typefaces. Although these typefaces have been around basically since the beginning of print media, their popularity is growing rapidly in the digital realm. A slab typeface has a worn look, much like one would find on those old Western wanted posters, according to Jacqueline Thomas at webdesignledger.com. Typically a slab typeface is used in all caps as a header. This notion is universal in typography- the fancier fonts serve as headers, whereas the basic fonts are used for content.

Slab Typeface Example

Choosing the right font is crucial to the impact of your site’s message. Skinny fonts give a girly feel and big bold fonts give an impression of strength. Worn, tattered fonts look modern and fonts with curled edges and such create a sense of tranquility and beauty. The feeling you want you reader to have when visiting your site is crucial in making your font decision. We are no longer designing for newsprint, the web is a whole (somewhat new) world.

If you want to learn more about fonts and typography for web design feel free to visit the sites below. There are also various free sites that facilitate font downloading, one of my favorites is http://www.dafont.com.


Thomas, Jacqueline. Web Design Trends for 2010. Retrieved on May 11, 2010 from http://webdesignledger.com/tips/web-design-trends-for-2010

Type Trends 2010. Retrieved on May 11, 2010 from http://www.fontshop.com/blog/?cat=76


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