Congratulations! You’ve made the important decision to launch your own business website. No matter what it is that you offer — product, service or advice — there’s no doubt that you want your site to be both attractive and professional in appearance. Here are seven basic facts to keep in mind as you evaluate and choose font styles.
1. Free fonts are worth checking out.
If you’ve used Microsoft Word, you probably know that it includes a fairly robust set of fonts. One of those fonts might fit your business perfectly. Still, don’t automatically limit yourself to just these Word fonts. There are hundreds of clever, intricate and amusing fonts available for free online. Just search for “free font” and go have fun trying some out. Three of the more popular sites for free fonts are:
2. Fonts have a tremendous impact on the overall perception of a website.
The fonts you choose will work together with the colors and layout of your website to create a visual image of what your site is all about. Studies have shown that people are capable of making a visual first impression in 1/20th of second (http://www.websiteoptimization.com/speed/tweak/blink/).
That’s amazingly fast – literally in the blink of an eye. A wild or fancy font used at the top of your site to highlight your business name is fine, but you’ll want to keep the use of that font to a minimum. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with using the more basic fonts (Times, Arial, Verdana, etc.) for everything else. You want to avoid that “blink-of-an-eye” impression that says, “This site doesn’t look very professional – it’s messy, jumbled and hard to read.”
A word of caution about the “Comic Sans” font – this casual font has been so overused that there is a decisive backlash against it. Even if you think this is a silly reaction, it’s best to avoid this font.
3. You can use multiple fonts on your website.
Ok, so you’ve selected a fancy, decorative font for your company name at the top of your home page, and you’re using Arial for the rest. You could stop there, but using another font to call attention to special parts of your website will add visual interest. For example, you could use a modern, techno-type font as the heading to the part of your site where you review a new type of gadget every month. Just be sure that the fancy fonts are different enough from each other so that your readers won’t think you’ve made a mistake. Another fun way to use a snappy font is if you offer any seasonal specials. There are ‘candy cane’ fonts, Halloween fonts, ‘Easter egg’ fonts and more!
4. Color can make even the simplest fonts come alive.
Use color in your fonts and on your webpage, but avoid clashing or harsh combinations. Be especially careful when using colored backgrounds, as it’s possible to create optical illusions where your letters appear to be moving or floating above the page. One of the safest combinations is black or blue text on a white background, plus one color and a few shades or tints of that color for various headings and buttons.
5. Consistency is extremely important.
Consistent use of font/color combinations not only makes it easier for your customers to find the information they need, it looks better as well. For example, if your section headings on the home page are all in bold, peacock-blue Calibri, use this same style on the section headings on all other pages.
6. Fonts that look good online may not look so good when printed.
Before committing 100 percent to your choices of fonts and colors, you’ll want to see what they look like when printed. As part of maintaining consistency, you should use a portion of these fonts and colors on your business cards, letterheads and any other collateral that you produce. Make sure the combinations are legible. It’s also a good idea to see what things look like when printed in black-and-white. Not all of your potential customers have color printers, or they might print one copy of your material in color and photocopy the rest.
7. Feedback from others is very valuable.
As a business owner, you want your customers to enjoy, appreciate and, above all, understand what you’re presenting on your website. After you’ve decided on the final combination of font styles and colors, take a little bit of time to get feedback on your choices. If you already have established customers, get their input, as well as that of your friends and family.
Re-designing a website is time-consuming, but the cost in dollars and hours are worth the effort for a finished product that will brand your company. Think of your home page as a front porch, and keep it tidy for your guests. Take the time up front to make sure the look of the lettering you’ve chosen is an accurate reflection of your business.
What fonts do you use for the headers and text of your website?
Senior executive Anita Brady is the President of 123Print.com, a leading provider of high quality customizable items like business cards, letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.