Effects of Typography on User Experience

Typography is an art and technique that is gaining popularity more and more as time goes on. It is a crucial skill that every designer must have no matter what their focused field is.

If you are someone who runs a business, wants to or is simply a designer, typography isn’t talked so much about for no reason. With the help of typography, you can make a lasting impact on your readers and users.

Although it may only seem like a bunch of words put together to some people, that bunch is put together in a very logical and technical way, where every element of it is paid attention to to the tea. It is an important factor in designing that should not and must not be ignored.

If you’re not sure why you should pay attention to typography, to make it simple, it’s how you can keep your reader’s attention to your illustration, brand or design. Yes, pictures can speak a thousand words, and so can your logo and other illustrations. But typography plays quite a bit into how long they keep looking at your work, and the impact it makes on them.

Importance in Graphic Design

In Graphic designing, typography relates to the techniques and results of arranging type in such a manner that it represents the brand and business you are working on as closely as possible, and gives people an idea of what it is truly about.

The better your typography is, the better chances you have of being noticed. So much so, that especially with logos, some companies have left images behind and have made their logo with letters stylized in a very specific way.

This makes brands easier to remember, one of the most common examples being Coca Cola. There’s quite a story behind the Coca Cola logo, that shows exactly how everything came to be and the impact it had on all parts of the world is quite obvious.

Coca Cola logo is the best example since you can see exactly how much of its elements are associated with the brand itself.

Coca Cola logo

A clever graphic designer knows how to explore typography in a way where it communicates both the visual and verbal aspects of the design and brand clearly.

Now, what exactly is meant by “visual and verbal aspects”?

  • Visual – The meaning created by the visual appearance of the illustration; both text and image. The character the typography has and how it makes you feel contribute to its visual quality.
  • Verbal – Literal meaning of the words or phrase used in the illustration.

When combined the right way, the visual and verbal aspects can have a huge impact on user experience, and demonstrate and convey a variety of messages.

Another example of a very strong logo with balanced visual and verbal aspects is the KitKat Logo.

KitKat Logo

This study, here, very clearly shows how typography can have an effect on us and how marketers can use it to their advantage. It shows that the fonts used by some popular corporations such as IBM, Mercedes, Nivea and Marlboro are recognized internationally and is exactly why these companies have invested in design and copyright of trademarked fonts.

If you don’t believe it, take a look at the image below from an ad campaign by Greenpeace:

KitKat Killer Logo

Although it doesn’t say KitKat, your mind instantly creates a recognizable connection with the brand.

Effects of Typography

Kevin Larson and Rosalind Picard presented their findings on how typography effects moods in their paper, The Aesthetics of Reading, which also dealt with the benefits of good typography.

Following is a very simple example, the first in the study. Which one do you think looks better and more enjoyable to read?

Effects of Typography

The only thing that is different in both the documents is the layout and placement of the text. The second image is very clearly easier to read and most would even be excited to read it. It is crisp and clear, and the layout is preferred greatly over the other.

The first image seems quite confusing and almost as if it is too much to process. It can confuse your mind and simply is not even pleasing to look at.

These processes happen all the time in our brains and greatly reflect on our mood and choices we make after.

Similarly, the paper also tests the manner in which a text is written, including ligatures, small caps, numerals, sub/superscript features and so on.

Even the spaces between each letter, word, sentence and paragraph effects your mood and productivity on certain cognitive tasks.

The paper shows that symmetry is much more preferred than uneven stroke weight and spacing between and within characters.

These are all factors that need to be considered when working online as well as offline.

That being said, it’s a good rule of thumb to have your logo, or illustration optically spaced, rather than mathematically. The image below demonstrates the difference between the both.

Effects of Typography

Positive Mood, Better Results

It is only obvious that the more positivity your illustration induces, the more they will be attracted to your brand and business. The study above proves that good typography boosts cognitive performance too.

The truth is typography can also impact judgement. The New York Times conducted a study, “Are you an optimist or pessimist?” Although the study discussed feelings of participants of security during catastrophic events, it was more about the effects typeface can have on you. And since no harm was caused, perhaps it could be called ethical too.

The fonts used were Comic Sans, Computer Modern, Trebuchet, Helvetica, Georgia and Baskerville. The study was conducted on about 45,000 participants and the results showed that people tended to agree with the Baskerville font 1.5% more than the rest.

1.5% may seem like a small percentage, but it is substantial enough to show that typeface, after all, does effect judgement.

The more fonts you use in the same text, the more you are personalizing it, and the more expressive and creative it’ll be. Quite honestly, your typeface pretty much acts as your body language and we all know how important body language is. It can either create an emotional connection between you and the client or completely ruin your marketing pitch.

And when it comes to good typography, it’s simple to understand but not so much to execute. The easier your text is to understand, and so it’ll develop a strong sense of character for your audience to focus on.

Typography in Web Design

When designing a website, you need to keep in mind that you’re probably going to have a lot of information on there so it’s a better idea to keep the typeface and style consistent rather than trying to mix it up too much, which will just be a sore to read.

A good typeset page tells the reader and user exactly where to start reading and how to proceed down the page. What’s of importance, and what is not is clearly stated not in words, but by just how the text is laid out on the page of the website.

Colors are also greatly important and should be kept to a minimum or only a set should be used on the entire website. Jumping around too much can again, just confuse your readers and make the point of the website or page harder to understand.

Similarly, don’t keep it too simple to the point where there’s no difference between the heading and the content of it.

Typography in Content Marketing

Making an impact on the reader and calling to your business through content is what content marketing is about. It’s nearly impossible to read any type of text without having it convey an emotion which is why it is much better to know what emotion it is that you want to convey, the best font for it to be written in and everything else that’ll draw attention.

Another tip to remember is that, bold draws attention while italics does not cause much impact on the reader. But italicizing the content can bring in a bit of elegance and sophistication to your text.

Information is also easier to process when set in bullet points than in huge chunks of paragraphs that, honestly, nobody has the time to go through.

Whereas when using “crisp” typeface such as Calibri, you make your point very definite and solid.

Getting Started

Well, you need to know exactly what it is that you’re trying to achieve. The goal of your typography project should be clear. Knowing what you want your readers to feel is important and then working by keeping that thought in your mind will help you in clearly emphasizing the elements.

Try different font styles, sizes, colors, underline the text, make it bold, italicize it or whatever you need to do to make it convey that exact mood which will let people know about your work and not just grab their attention on first sight but keep it there for a while. If you’re a layman, you can simply try out a logo design tool yourself and see what works for you and what does not.

Also, do not forget, that it is very important for your text to be legible, even in small fonts. The characters need to be able to be identified correctly and make the process of reading your text smoothly without needing to invest a whole bunch of effort in understand the first letter alone.

Following are a few elements you’re going to nail the application and understanding of to improve your typography skills.

Elements of Typography
  • Typefaces: Text style that is used (for example, Times New Roman, Calibri, Ariel etc.).
  • Fonts: Specific style of typeface, as well as its width, height and size (for example, Century, size 12, bold), often used synonymously with typeface.
  • Tracking: Space between characters in a text.
  • Kerning: Similar to tracking but also refers to the white space between letters and characters in a text.
  • Leading: Measurement of distance between one line of text with the lines above and below it.
  • Line Length: Just as the name says it, length of the text in a line.

In Conclusion

Typography is an art form that focuses on the visual component of the written word. Just by appropriately visualizing it to your target audience, you can create an unforgettable impact. For any designer, it is crucial to pay close attention to typography and work towards mastering their skill of it if they want to develop and enhance their career in the design industry.

Typography is body language and makes or breaks the first impression a user has of your brand.

And well, as Cyrus Highsmith says it, “Typography is the detail and the presentation of a story. It represents the voice of an atmosphere, or historical setting of some kind. It can do a lot of things.”

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