The Fontroversy: The Impact of Fonts on User Experience

Posted by: Kayla Mueller, Digital Media Trainee

Behind every good storefront logo is a design that has taken the time to understand the brand. Just as delicate vintage lettering may draw in hungry cupcake eaters, website landing pages must serve similar purposes in the digital space. On the search engine results page, there’s limited opportunities to differentiate your brand. Your consumer doesn’t experience your brand until they actually click-through to your site.

Once consumers are on your site, they truly experience brand engagement, which may ultimately lead to conversion. Proper font selection can result in reduced bounce rates, improved time-on-site and higher conversion rates.

“Web designers have approximately 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression” (Lingaard, 2006). Consumers want to be greeted with a relevant and reliable company or they’ll immediately leave your site. Research by Walker, Smith and Livingstone (1986) revealed that typefaces possess specific semantic qualities and that a particular typeface would be effective if it shared similar features as the product being advertised. For example, a sturdy or heavy type such as Impact would be appropriate for advertising heavy machinery. Just because fonts are often easily accessible doesn’t mean that they’re universal.

Different fonts elicit different experiences. Dare I introduce the fontroversy around the utilization of Comic Sans; maybe a little girl can use it to advertise an impromptu lemonade stand, but that doesn’t mean that a multinational conglomerate should use it to attract new employers on their website. However, if they want to attract the same audience as the girl in sunscreen selling lemonade, then that’s a different story. There’s a time and place for everything, especially fonts.

To foster authenticity with consumers, brands must be consistent. It’s important for brands to gain and maintain consumers’ trust; it only takes a few design components gone wrong for consumers to immediately leave a page. Ensure that letters are easily decipherable from one another so visitors don’t have to spend extra time identifying letters, and they can focus on engaging with content.

Fonts should invoke trust and reliance instead of confusion and frustration. Fonts impact readers because they make them feel a certain way. “Fifty percent of every buying decision is driven by emotion” (Swisher and Shepard). When a brand resonates with a consumer, fostering an overall positive online experience, that consumer will trust the brand and be more likely to purchase.

Never take your landing page fonts lightly! Design experiences using typography that contribute to overall brand personality and align with your goals.

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