Mockup of 6ssteakhouse.com, a WordPress website, on various computers.

Why do we visit websites? We’re inclined to visit a particular website of a brand that interests us. It’s the quickest and easiest way for us to find information about a brand. And one of the central reasons that we visit a website (besides the pretty pictures) is to read the words. The typography.  And that typography matters as it’s a marker of your brand’s personality.

Is there such a thing as website disharmony? Let’s face it… we check out when a website feels like it is in need of yoga or meditation. Websites are supposed to invoke an emotion from visitors, and if your brand’s tone matches a certain typeface, we’re in business. Typography is personal. It’s a vehicle of extension for your brand.

BACK IN THE DAY

Back in the days of the manual printing press, printers set each letter in a page layout by hand; each letter was comprised of an individual metal block. The printer would coat the surface of the frame holding these blocks with ink from a roller, and press a piece of paper on top. Printers organized the thousands of metal blocks of a font into drawers dedicated to specific typefaces.

Pretty admirable to think about the work that went into typography back then, huh? It’s a lost art form these days, except on type nerds like us.

TYPEFACES AND FONTS

Typefaces are applicable for their suitable industry and/or brands. For instance, you wouldn’t expect a shoe manufacture’s website to use the same font as a video game site. It would feel a bit “off” when reading the content. That said, you should consider what your brand wishes to communicate to your audience before deciding on a typography style.

Having a variety of fonts sounds like fun. But the reality is that it will make your website look like you haven’t cleaned your house in a while and turn away any visiting guests (a.k.a your audience). This will distract attention from your brand’s content and possibly lead them astray. And, let’s be honest, who wants to bet invited to an unkempt house?

Speaking of houses… this one is on the house: use between 2 and 4 typefaces in your website design and use them for the entire website. Consistency is the key to the kingdom… is what you want to be thinking.

THE SERIF AND SANS SERIF DISTINCTION

Sans Serif typefaces are considered more modern and include a variety of widths and shapes. This style of typeface lacks strokes at the ends of letters (hence “sans” serif)… Sans Serif typefaces have a look that is direct and precise, although character edges may be either sharp or rounded.

A typeface or “font family” making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. Some typography sources refer to sans-serif typefaces as “grotesque” (in German, “grotesk”) or “Gothic”, and serif typefaces as “roman”.

IN A NUTSHELL

The typeface is a particular design of type. Whereas a font is a type in a particular size and weight. In essence, a typeface includes many a font. With the digital design of websites and logos these days, more often do you see these two words used interchangeably.

If you’re in a pinch, just think of it this way: the difference between a font and a typeface is the same as that between the lead actors and the film they star in. Keep that in mind and you’re good to go. For more useful tools and tips of the trade, message us online or give us a ring at 323-848-4465. Oh, and be sure to check us out on Instagram to see even more of our website design, logo design, and other creative work!

About the Author of This Post

Christopher Dalbey is an actor and screenwriter who likes to hear the funny side of the story first. You can follow his odd-yssey on Instagram, and see full clips of his work on christopherdalbey.com.