I have a free, conversion-rate-optimizing opportunity for you. That opportunity is typography.
That’s right. When used strategically, typography can make that crucial first impression for your users. By using the right typeface choices and styles, you can enhance the character of your site and set a tone of voice that reinforces what your words say and influences how your words are perceived.
Since you really only have a few web design tools in your toolbox (words, images, colors, and composition), you should be optimizing each one as much as possible to appeal to viewers and drive those leads.
The Impact of Typography
Studies have found users tend to give links to longer pieces of visually appealing, quality content.
That visually appealing part is where typefaces come in.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean all of your webpages should be 3,000 words long. In fact, I urge you NOT to always write long-form content, since a study found that people read less than 20% of text online.
But if your site has a blog to provide deeply actionable information, then you should use it as an opportunity to publish that long-form content and earn some links.
And if you’re going to have long-form written content on your site, you better make sure it’s readable and pleasing to the eyes.
The best way to make something pleasing to the eyes is to make sure it has great visual contrast.
People are programmed to look first at things that stand out. If something looks different than the things around it (it’s bigger, a different color, aligned differently, etc.) then we assume it must have special significance and we pay more attention to it.
You can use this psychological wiring to your advantage. By strategically incorporating different font faces and styles, you can make specific words really pop, creating visual interest while simultaneously emphasizing your most important points.
Increased Comprehension and Readability
By incorporating typography the right way, you can positively impact your viewers’ reading experience by optimizing readability and increasing comprehension.
There isn’t one perfect typeface for increasing visibility, so don’t even start that search. All you need to do is choose a typeface that lends itself to the web.
Before you drive yourself crazy going through huge lists of fonts, I want you to first realize: there are three legibility factors more important than the specific typeface you choose:
- Age of reader
- Size of type
- Line spacing
These three characteristics can greatly impact a viewer’s ability to consume and comprehend your words.
1. Age of Reader
Our vision deteriorates as a natural part of aging in a process called presbyopia. At 40 years old, only half the light gets through to your retina as it did when you were 20. When you’re 60, it goes down to 20%.
2. Size of Type
Since all eyes aren’t equal, you’re going to want to make sure you can accommodate as many as possible.
Research shows small font sizes and low contrast are the #1 complaint for web users when it comes to reading online. This makes a lot of sense, since 42% of Americans are near-sighted and three out of four need some form of corrective lens.
Keep your font-sizing in mind, and you can increase readability and maximize conversions for all eyes. Remember it doesn’t hurt those who can see well if your text is large; however, it does hurt those who can’t see well if your text is smaller.
3. Line Spacing
Line spacing is important because it affects how easily a person can locate the start of the next line of text. The less effort a person needs to read your words, the better.
All readers (especially those with low vision) experience better reading speeds and improved comprehension when line-spacing was set to 1.5 or 2.
Impact on Judgment
Not only can typography visually attract us and increase our comprehension, but it can also impact our judgment and emotional responses.
New York Times Study
A New York Times study, called “Are you an optimist or a pessimist?” was designed to determine if test subjects would find a statement more believable depending on its typeface.
People were given a statement to read about a catastrophic event and were then asked how confidently they believed the statement.
Different test groups were given statements printed in different typefaces, including:
The results: Baskerville, a font designed in the 1700s to balance readability and high contrast, had a 1.5% increase in people agreeing with the statement than the other fonts.
The takeaway: Typefaces that are legible and have a high contrast can potentially influence readers to trust and even agree with your statements.