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Using Fonts on the Web

Have you ever looked at a webpage and thought that it looked a bit more like a ransom note than an informational page? Chances are, you were noticing the ill effects of having too many differing fonts, font colors, and font sizes lumped together. While using different fonts and colors on your webpages can be a great way to add interest, it's easy to overdo it and end up giving your audience an unprofessional image. This article will help you better understand how to add impact without going overboard.



website like a ransom note + lack of style = messy website fonts



Font Basics


As websites have grown in size and complexity, there has been a need to visually communicate more effectively through usage of font styles. A font in its most basic sense is simply a set of displayable characters. There are several fonts installed on every operating system (Windows, Mac, Android, etc) and these are used to display the textual information that you see on the computer screen. Websites also make use of these fonts, rendering the text on webpages in the font specified by the web designer in whatever size and color they chose. When a website is developed, all of these variables should be planned out and coded in a stylesheet for the entire website. However, in most content management systems, a website admin can override the website's stylesheet when editing text. They can specify a custom font, text size, or color for any textual content on the website. The key is to do it in a purposeful and tasteful manner.



Font Licensing


As you probably noticed, there's an abundance of fonts on the internet. The unbelieveable sheer number of different fonts available for use is ever-expanding as more artists gain access to the tools needed to create a custom font. Typically, these fonts are found on font collection websites, and most can be downloaded for free. Tempting as it may be to grab a 500 pack of free fonts and go to town on your website, it's wise to take a few things into consideration before starting.


First, since you're probably interested in using the font on your business website, it's important to check the license for using the font commercially. Free fonts may come with terms such as being "for personal use only" so be sure to check the license agreement of any font you download. This will help you avoid unnecessary future headaches if the original font creator decides to look for individuals using their font for unapproved purposes and request that the font be taken down. It's not such a big issue if you've only used the font sparingly on your site, but if you have used it prominently in many places, it could be a headache to fix.



Fancy Fonts


It's also important to consider what you want to use the font for. Is it for a headline or for body text? Is it for a graphic banner ad or for a text link ad? Fonts with lots of intricate detail work can look stunning as headlines or as a header for a graphic banner ad. It's quite common to see a beautifully detailed font being used to indicate the title of a page, or of an important small block of text. Body copy, however, calls for a much simpler font. Using a fancy font as your body copy could result in a page that is practically unreadable even by people with 20/20 vision, much less a vision-impaired person. Choose your body copy font wisely, and when in doubt, stick to something plain and simple.



Font Color & Variety


Color of your text is another important stylistic issue, and the general rule is to keep it simple. Keep your color choices in line with a pre-determined color palette that coordinates with the rest of the colors on the website. If your website's main color scheme is neutral shades of brown and green, but you choose a neon purple for your headlines and maybe a bubblegum pink for your links, it could be very distracting for the viewer. Again, there are no hard and fast rules for choosing colors, but generally speaking it's advisable to keep the color palette simple and stick to it when choosing colors for your fonts.


A question that often arises is "How many fonts can I use on my website?" Even though there might be a good reason to break the rule, it's generally recommended that no more than three fonts be used on your website. That may not seem like a lot, but take into consideration that a website should have a clean and cohesive appearance that communicates the information to the user as simply as possible. If a web visitor is constantly seeing different fonts as they move from page to page on your website, it doesn't give the overall impression of being one unified web experience. Worse yet, if the web visitor is seeing many different fonts on the same page, it can be very distracting from the actual message you want to communicate.



Hopefully this article has helped answer some basic questions about the usage of fonts on your website. They are a great way to add visual impact and highlight special text. However, not taking time to make judicious choices about font style and color can harm your chances of appealing to your potential clients. Have more questions or need more help with fonts? Our team has over 10 years of experience and hundreds of satisfied clients.

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