If you were to look at our portfolio, you will notice something about every website that we’ve created: The body text font and the navigation fonts are relatively standard across the board. You’ll notice that we do not use all types of fancy, decorative fonts unless they are used within the graphical elements of the site. I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “there are THOUSANDS of crazy creative fonts out there, why are you sticking to the basic Arial, Times New Roman stuff?” There are 4 main reasons why we stick to the basics when talking about body copy and navigation.
- They are considered “Web Safe Fonts” – In theory, when I design a website, I could use the craziest, funkiest font that I could possibly find, work it into the design in a creative way, get it just the way I like it and then publish it to the web. When I look at it on my computer it will look great, however, John Doe down the street doesn’t have that crazy funky font installed on his computer so when he looks at the website, his system will automatically replace the font with something standard, such as Arial. So all that hard work designing this amazing site with this awesome font has gone to waste because now the design is all out of whack. When you use a font that is “web safe” that means that generally every computer will have that font, therefore the way your website will display on every computer (in regards to fonts) is relatively predictable. This is not to say that you can’t use decorative fonts in web design, however, if you need to use a unique font, it will need to be converted into an image before it is used in the design so that you can ensure that it will properly display on all computers.
- Readability – In regards to body copy, you obviously want the website viewer to be able to read your content, so your going to have to keep it basic. A basic rule of thumb when talking about large blocks of text is that serif fonts (fonts that have little feet protruding off the ends, such as Times New Roman) have better readability when printed and sans serif fonts (fonts that do not have those little feet such as Arial) have greater readability when in digital form.
- Content Management – When you purchase a website package from inConcert Web Solutions, you have the option of purchasing a Content Management System (CMS). This is a system that we can integrate into your site that allows you to easily edit your website content, add/delete pages to your site, edit your keywords, etc. using a WYSIWYG editor (i.e. you don’t have to know how to code, it’s basically like using Word to update your site). If you’ve purchased one of these systems and down the road you decide to add 2 new pages, they will automatically show up in your navigation menu styled according to your site design. However, if those navigation items used decorative fonts, they would have to be images, therefore they could not be dynamically created via your Content Management System and you’d have to contact your web development company so that they can create the graphic and code it into your design.
- Search Engine Optimization – Have you ever found a piece of information on a website (in text form) and tried to select the text with your mouse only to find that the block text is actually a jpg? It blows my mind that people are still creating websites like this. Search engines will never find your website if your important content is coded into your site as an image. Why? Because the only way that a search engine can “read” an image is through it’s filename and it’s alt tag. Content is a huge driver of search engine optimization and keeping as much of your site’s content in text form is extremely important if you want your rankings to be relatively high. Therefore, using web safe fonts for your important content is pretty much essential.
Using web safe fonts in your website design is something that you should make sure your designer/developer is doing. Again, decorative fonts are fine for design elements because they can just be turned into graphics, but keep your important information such as navigation, main content, address and phone number in text form using a web safe font. This will ensure the content can get picked up by a search engine and that the content will display properly on everyone’s computer.
NOTE: Here are a few web safe fonts to consider: Times New Roman, Georgia, Palatino Linotype, Arial, Comic Sans, Lucida Sans, Impact, Tahoma, Trebuchet, and Verdana.