Typography 101: What Small Business Owners Need To Know
The old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is sometimes hard to overcome in the business world. How you present yourself aesthetically is important, no matter how solid your business plan is.
It’s become crucial for companies to have a presence on the web, whether it’s a simple landing page, a blog or some social media profiles. And while content and products you’re offering should be valuable to your audience, the design of your site or blog can play a big factor in keeping your fans engaged. No one will stay on a poorly designed website.
However, not every small business owner can hire a graphic designer at a moment’s notice. It can be expensive, and depending on the size of your business, it may be unnecessary. But never fear — there are small things you can do to improve the overall look of your web presence.
“One step that a small business owner can take is to look at other sites that they think are well done,” says graphic designer Emily Caufield. “Take notice of the style, font choices and overall aesthetic of the site, and try to make similar choices when it comes to choosing what is best for their own.”
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t already have a designer, there are several great themes on WordPress that are free, and plenty of premium themes that require a small, one-time fee. The blogging platform’s customizability makes it user-friendly, while allowing room for creativity.
One thing that’s often overlooked, even if designs are in the works, is the font used to represent your company. Remember, the easier it is to read, the longer people will stay focused on what you’re trying to tell them. This applies to not just the content, but from a design perspective as well. Learn how to pick the right font — and how to avoid one that will turn off your possible customers.
What font do you use for your website? Let us know in the comments below.
Choosing the Right Font
When crafting the proper typographical look for your company, Caufield suggests sticking with two fonts: a display or decorative font for headers and a font for body copy.
“The display font can be more fun or bold, something that adds personality to your site,” says Caufield. “Usually this type of font works well larger — for headers or call-outs — but is probably not very legible on screen at smaller sizes.”
For the rest of the copy on your site (or any stationery and promotional copy, really) it’s best to go with a simple, clean and legible font. Caufield recommends something like Arial, Helvetica, Verdana or Trebuchet.
“It is also nice to choose a font that has a family — this gives you the option of using the bold, medium, thin and italic versions of your typeface,” she says.
Setting the Tone With Your Font
Believe it or not, the type of font you go with can be very expressive — it sets a mood for the story you’re trying to tell. When choosing a font, think about what your business does and who your audience is.
“A bank website is going to use a typeface that is clean and simple, because their customers would not feel confident handing their money over to an establishment whose entire website was in Comic Sans,” says Caufield, adding that a company in the business of throwing kids birthday parties or something of that nature has more room for fun fonts.
“In [that] case, choosing to not use a youthful and playful font might actually hurt their business,” she explains.
What to Avoid When Selecting a Font
After polling numerous designers, one thing is certain: Comic Sans and Papyrus are two fonts that are advised against for business websites.
Normally, it’s better to go with something classic and timeless rather than something flashy. Think of a font like you would an outfit for an important event, such as the dress you wore to high school prom. It’s always best when you can look back on it and it still feels fresh and authentic.
“It’s sometimes smarter to choose a font that is going to stand the test of time versus something that is going to fall out of favor in a year,” says Caufield.
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