In today’s digital landscape more than ever—people are aware of typography, design and how the world looks around them. When it comes to fonts, evolution has been very evident. The one which everyone sees is from print to digital, but as designers, we can see the nuanced evolution in the digital space as well. A font’s most integral role is to communicate information in the most efficient way while attracting readers and keeping their attention on the subject matter.
I would like to share my experience and learnings in the usage of fonts while working on different domains such as Enterprise, Fintech, E-commerce and Commercial applications. Before we start designing, we have to understand the various typefaces available today. Some of the ones you should know are:
Serif is the slight projection at the end of a stroke that’s most commonly seen at the bottom of letters. If you look closely, some fonts will have “little feet” on them. This is what characterizes it as being a Serif font. This allows the eye to flow through sentences with ease and is often used in print. It improves readability and flow, so one can skim through the words and grasp them rather than struggle with each word.
Fonts that are Sans have no “feet,” or serif. You can clearly see the difference between a Sans Serif font and a Serif font. Sans Serif fonts are often modern, trendy, streamlined and are often used when there are long paragraphs of text. However, they tend to be harder to read at smaller sizes.
This font type is known for its elegant, light and professional appeal. You often see this kind of font written on wedding invitations, diplomas or certificates. We use this kind of font sparingly in the digital space. It’s not designed to be used as body copy or used in small spaces. This makes these fonts unique, and the thought behind its usage also has to be considered well.
We often see this kind of font on movie posters, newspapers, banners, etc. It is intentionally designed to grab your attention or to give emphasis to a certain area. This is another font that’s not meant to be used in large quantities – a little goes a long way.
Now let’s take a look at what font types to use, considering the domain, users, environmental conditions, user behaviour patterns and time they are going to spend on the application. Here are some of the domains I have covered during my journey as a UI Designer and a few quick tips on which fonts I like using.
SaaS and Enterprise Applications
I find the enterprise software to be fascinating to design because I get to help simplify and create interest in otherwise complex and boring data. However, Enterprise software is usually important to the people using it as it helps with their daily tasks. It serves a purpose and solves a problem. In enterprise applications, the users are in front of the screen for many hours, and therefore need to see fonts that are easy on the eye. While designing an enterprise application myself, I used fonts like Lato, Roboto and Open Sans because they have classical proportions to give the letterforms harmony and elegance.
E-Commerce and Consumer Applications
For e-commerce platforms, a font plays an important role because it shows the platform’s personality, tonality, expressions, emphasis and engagement. These are some of the heavier psychological requirements from a font today apart from the rudimentary function of displaying content. In most of my eCommerce or consumer designs, I have used a combination of display and san-serif fonts. Display fonts are used because they bring out things like discounts and prices, while san-serif fonts are clean and modern, and they compliment display fonts. Some of the font combinations I have used are Butler and Nunito, Rubix and Futura, Merriweather and Poppins.
A well-chosen font can convey a certain mood, establish an information hierarchy and reflect professionalism. Most importantly, a unique and well-used font can create brand recall and recognition. Scientists claim you have about 10-20 seconds to capture the user’s attention before they leave your website. Not only does choosing the right typography help to communicate your message, but it also has the power to affect tone and even make your brand more recognizable.