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Believe it or not, there’s a branch of psychology dedicated to studying how people respond to fonts. That’s right, fonts.

You probably haven’t really ever considered how font choice influences your mood or decision making process. We all know that Comic Sans is a much derided typeface, despite the fact that it’s said to help people with dyslexia better comprehend written information. Other than that, few people openly express an opinion one way or the other about fonts used in websites, apps, or other digital assets.

We tend to only discuss typography in situations where it’s been used badly. In reality, when creating a new digital product, type should be one of the main points around which design discussions are held. You can convey much through your choice of type, from the mood of your business to the sophistication and quality of your services.

One of the main challenges facing any website design company is deciding on a font that is legible on all device types and screen sizes. As technology has evolved, the demands placed on web designers and developers have grown considerably. Whilst these professionals were once required to build a basic website that could be accessed on a desktop computer, they are now expected to craft digital experiences that can be viewed on everything from a virtual reality headset to a smart watch.

How can you be sure that you’ve picked the right font for every imaginable (and unimaginable) situation? This task may have once seemed impossible, but a few years ago, everything changed, thanks to the combined efforts of Google, Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft.

Elements of typography

Typography is defined as the art and technique of arranging type to make language legible and appealing. Based upon this definition, it’s clear that typography is about a lot more than a simple choice of font.

Typography elements that affect legibility include the typeface (the font itself, be it Times New Roman or Papyrus), hierarchy, size, colour, kerning, and white space — amongst a number of other different factors.

With so many variables, it’s incredibly difficult for designers to be confident that their chosen aesthetic is readable to all audience members.

Whatsmore, when working with digital assets, your choice in font can have a significant impact on other elements of the user experience, such as page speed. The more fonts you use, the larger the bandwidth that will be required to load your website. Factors such as page speed or user bounce rate (potential customers may simply depart your site if they feel it is taking too long to load) can negatively affect your SEO rankings. What we’re saying is, there’s no point in having a beautifully curated website with top of the line typography if no one knows it exists.

These seem like pretty big conundrums, don’t they? Well, a problem of this size could only be tackled by some of tech’s biggest names…

How digital typography is changing

In 2016, Google, Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft — traditionally competitors — announced that they were banding together to help solve the various type-related problems faced by designers and developers. Combined, these four companies released ‘variable fonts’ — a ‘font family’ (think of this as every iteration of a single font — a size 12 bold Times New Roman and a size 12 italicised Times New Roman, etc.) that is packaged in a single file.

We’re getting a little technical here but as a result, a five-weight variable font family consists of a 199kb file. The same font family in a traditional format forms a 656kb file. All you need to know is that variable fonts = lower file size = faster site speed.

Variable fonts also have the advantage of supporting responsive web design. Variable typefaces operate on an axis, where elements including weight, width, italic, slant, and optical size can all be individually set. Being able to personalise fonts at such minute detail means you can be sure that your content is accessible to all.

As a full services digital agency, Newpath Web prides itself on our ability to provide support across all aspects of web and app development. Building an innovative, engaging app requires input from a number of field experts, including designers, developers, and SEO professionals. By partnering with Newpath Web, you can be confident that all aspects of your digital asset — from CMS platform to font choice — supports a positive user experience. While our team boasts experienced and passionate designers, we are far more than a simple website design company.

Contact our friendly and experienced team today to learn more about our successful projects and how we can assist you.

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