Consider this…Design is more about the don’ts rather than the dos.
Making a graphic design decision to choose the right font type style starts with function. This may seem like practical advise or common sense but you truly need to ask yourself can people read the font you selected? If no is the answer all the best intended decisions and arguments for using the font are useless.
You want people to read the copy – right?
When selecting a font you should consider where you are using the font. Are you choosing a website font? Are you selecting a font for your business card? Are you selecting your font for a large printed sign? Or maybe you are selecting a font with the intention to use the same font in all the above applications.
Think through all the possible ways you are using the font.
Also, you can research the history of a font. After all, font design in itself is an art form performed by typographic designers. They may have a description and history about the intended use for their work. For example it might be a decorative font not intended for use in a logo.
If you can’t read it then it’s wrong.
A strategic designer will be concerned with details. Guiding you avoiding mistakes that may negatively affect business. Small business start-ups should avoid choices made on trend alone because trends (9 times out of 10) will be a don’t for your business. There are always exceptions but if you are questioning it – then don’t do it.
Let’s say there are two groups of fonts.
Simple fonts – are sleek and straight lined and usually do not have curls, added graphics or flourishes. Fancy fonts look handwritten, curly, flowing or scripty. These fonts look busy and are often can be unreadable choices. These fonts vary on a scale from completely unreadable to slightly hard to read. I am positive you have seen a business make this mistake and consciously or unconsciously you dismiss their credibility because you couldn’t read their stuff. We are humans and we judge. If you just have to have that font in your design. Please error on the side of slightly difficult to read and avoid the rest.
The psychology of font use.
Hyunjin Song and Norbet Schwartz tested fancy fonts versus simple in two experiments. In the first test example they used two groups of people reading directions to a product one set read the simple and the other the fancy font.
The results were revealing and astonishing.
The people who read the simple font estimated it would take 8.2 minutes to complete the directions given. The other group reading the directions in the fancy font estimated that the task would take them 15.1 minuets to complete.
There is an important design strategy lesson here for selecting the correct font. If you want customers to think the task or what you are asking them to do is easier do not use a fancy scripted font. They might decide your products, directions or services to be complicated and TIME consuming.
Defense for fancy fonts. When to use script and decorative fonts wisely.
The same researchers presented two groups of people two different menus. One with a fancy font and one with a simple font. Again, remarkable results testing the choice of font to use.
The iron chef might be in the kitchen.
This time they tested a menu printed in a simple font and one in a fancy font. The first group reading the simple font menu thought that the prep time by the chef would be about 5.6 minutes. Pretty fast right – maybe faster than the drive through a Wendy’s ~chuckle~. The second group reading the fancy font thought the meal prep would take a little longer indicating that a skilled chef like Jamie Oliver was in the kitchen. Such a simple step that made a perceptive testable impact.
What is the lesson here?
Simple fonts are easier to read. Our minds process them more quickly. They can also make people think your product is easier to use, less complex or won’t be a time suck. Fancy fonts that are used strategically and not randomly selected (just because you like them) can communicate high value or that a product is detailed implying more effort or value.