Web Typography: Show some Character!

Design is communication

The first idea presented at our Friday Lunch & Learn on web typography concerned design itself. Design, like typography, is a means of communicating with the user. This specific means of communication improves accessibility and understanding of content.

Steve Jobs often reiterated his principle that, “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” First, you need to understand the message you wish to send before you can express it with design–it’s about putting content first.

Choosing the right font family

Choosing a font family is important because it sends the first message. We read what we click on, or put differently, we interact with the content that intrigues us. To improve understanding, form and function should work together. To this end, avoid using too many different typefaces on the same site so it stays legible. Try playing with different variations in the same font family.



There’s no such thing as a bad font, but there are bad uses. Finding the right typeface is an art: “Think Different,” the famous Mac slogan, used the noble letters of the Garamond font family.

Your typeface should be legible, effective, and appropriate, in addition to being well made. It should be legible with optimal spacing between letters and sentences, so your content is clear. It should be effective at breathing life into your brand or message. It should be appropriate to your specific context in order to set yourself apart and highlight your distinction.

Font hosts, like Google Fonts, make it easy to implement and license your fonts. However, these fonts are widely used and won’t necessarily demonstrate your personality.

One well-known example of a font expressing personality is the font Gotham, used by Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008.

What’s the future of web typography?

We ended the Lunch & Learn with a discussion on the future of web typography and on Google’s new logo. Changing from Catull to Product Sans, the company is modernizing its image and improving consistency after its restructuring. A new font for a new Alphabet, Google’s new holding company, certainly influenced the change!

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