Your typeface sets the tone of your website to your customers instantly and subconsciously. Text is often the vast majority of the content of your site, so choosing it shouldn’t be an after-thought and your family of fonts (parts of your typeface) can be used in different ways on your site to make elements of your content stand out.
There are two basic types: serif and sans serif.
Serif typefaces were developed for stone carving and print. They involve small lines at the end of the stroke on a letter or number. They give a more traditional feel to a typeface.
Sans serif typefaces don’t have that stroke on characters, giving a more modern look. Generally, sans serif typefaces work well on screens.
What you choose should depend on your industry, and the feel you want to give to your website. The key considerations are readability and how well the typefaces fit on the lines of your pages.
How to choose the right fonts for you
Your website designer will discuss what you need, ensure the fonts are licensed for commercial use, and will help you make your choice. You can get some inspiration by taking a look at the free fonts which are available using free services like Font Squirrel https://www.fontsquirrel.com/ and Google Fonts https://www.google.com/fonts. Or, you could look at paid services like Fonts.com https://www.fonts.com/web-fonts and Adobe Typekit https://typekit.com/. Both have a large number of typefaces from which you can choose.
Businesses where being traditional and trustworthy is important – such as solicitors or dentists – will often choose serif fonts to emphasise that. Those where stressing elegance and indulgence is important may well choose a decorative script which looks like copper-plated handwriting. Businesses which are design-led are more likely to choose fashionable, modern fonts.
What will suit your target audience?
Here are some typeface suggestions for 10 different types of business:
- Fast food outlets and bars: Nexa Rust, Intro Rust, ChunkFive.
- Elegant hotels: Allure, Garton, Henry Morgan Hand, Italianno, Grand Hotel.
- High-end restaurants: Quilline Script Thin, Rochester, Windsong.
- Heritage businesses: Kingthings Calligraphica, Kingthings Foundation.
- Craft breweries: Good Dog, FFF Tusj, Capture It, Lobster Two.
- Ice cream parlours: Seaside Resort, Pacifico, Sofia.
- Clothing retailers: Montserrat, Amatic, Kaushan Script.
- Solicitors, dentists, chiropractors: Playfair Display, League Gothic, Arvo, Roboto Slab.
- Garages: Code Pro, Bebas, Titillium, Open Sans.
- Hairdressers and spas: Great Vibes, Alex Brush, Dancing Script.
Within your family of fonts, you’ll have options like bold, italics, capitals, and point sizes (the size of your letters and numbers) to help differentiate between headlines, sub-headings, picture captions, bullet points, and names.
As a general rule of thumb, body text should be larger than 12 points to ensure it’s readable. Many sites use 16-point text, while others use 22-point text. Your subheadings should be in a larger point size than your body text, and your headings larger than your sub-headings.
It’s worth thinking about how your readers will view it when choosing your size – will they read it on desktops, tablets, or mobile phones? Keep your lines of type within 40 characters to help optimise your site for mobile screens.