You could say that many of today’s web designers debate over typography than any other issue. When it comes to website typography, it’s hard to nail down what works best because typographical preference is both subjective and relative to an individual website. The deciding factor for any major web-based typographical decisions in the end will usually come down to the client and what they want to see happen.
In working with the client, any talented web designer understands that good typography accomplishes the goal of readability. At the very least, the website visitor or user should be able to easily scan, read and understand the text on the web page. But just as users likes and dislikes are constantly evolving, the methods by which web designers engage readers with typography are changing too. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the current state of web design typography, the current trends, widely implemented best practices, and the future of web design typography.
Where it is Now
For starters, the massive amount of typefaces made available for designers via typography development applications and software is abundant. In the beginning of web-based typography design, there was a limited amount typeface available to the average designer with a limited amount of effort. Now there are wide ranges of design applications that allow designers to fully-customise the look of any given typeface. If you mix that with the seemingly unlimited customisation ability through web design tools, like HTML 5 and CSS, typography design capabilities are virtually endless. All of these tools go a long way to achieve the end-goal of text readability.
The Current State of Web Typography
Mixed Typographical Voice
One of the most recent typography style trends directly relates to type diversity. In a nutshell, this means that designers have begun mixing and matching font styles. In particular, this includes the mixing of Arial, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, and Verdana. The main downside to this is that amateur designers take to mixing and matching typefaces that don’t mix, or read very well.
One major critique of web-based typography has been that online type has been too small for far too long. Recently, designers have sought to correct the issue by using much larger type in web page design. This is part of an effort to make web pages more readable all across the board.
There’s a debate emerging in the design community over color contrast in textual font design. The argument is about whether or not text that is contrasted with the background color is more or less readable. Some say that a lack of contrast forces the reader to focus more on the text, and other elements of the page. Others say that without a clearly defined color contrast, web pages are unreadable, and essentially drive away web traffic.
When designers discuss best practices as it relates to web typography, the discussion is that of “balance”. The big idea is that website typography must strike a balance of readability, functionality and aesthetics. This is what some would call the three tenets of good web design.
Vintage typography is still hip, and we are likely to see more of it in the groundbreaking websites of tomorrow. We will also see more debates as to what website readability actually is. In the end, web designers everywhere must agree that what is good for the web user is also good for the web as a whole.