Figuring out what typography to use for a design is a bit of an art. Different industries call for a different voice when it comes to design and content. The niche a business falls into impacts the type of font which should be used. But designers must also factor in the personality of the brand and the identity they wish to project.
Each year, certain fonts become more popular than others, and this can vary based on device usage and trends. Studying current trends helps you understand what others are doing, but it’s also important to design in a timeless way so your site doesn’t become dated too soon. There are some tricks you can utilize that make your typography more readable and help convert site visitors into customers. Studies show that a 16-point font looks like printed text on the screen, for example.
The typography you choose impacts how others see your brand. The tone and personality of your industry should drive what you choose.
When it comes to financial institutions, customers want to know the brand is trustworthy. After all, they are either investing with the company or placing their money there for safekeeping. The last thing most hardworking people want to risk is losing their money.
In order to develop a sense of trust with your users, use more traditional-looking fonts and serif headings. Serif looks more traditional than sans serif, so people will feel you’re an established brand.
Have you ever noticed how most banks use the color blue in their designs? When studying color theory, blue depicts honesty and dependability. It’s also a calming color that reduces fear. Blue is the perfect color choice for financial websites.
Some good fonts to use include Helvetica, Myriad Pro and Fenix.
New Washington State Bank uses blue throughout their website design. Even though there are splashes of yellow in their color palette, blue is the primary hue. Note how the blue is both in the navigation and then fades down over the hero image. Blue is also prominent in the logo design. Even the image features a man wearing the color blue.
2. Home Improvement
When it comes to home improvement website typography, think about what people want to feel when hiring a home improvement company to work on their homes. As a brand, you must show you have experience and reliability. People need to know they can count on you to do a great job and finish what you start.
Use strong, bold type — but your color choices can vary, depending on the type of home improvement you do and your brand personality. For example, if you offer creative modern interiors, you might use a modern font and bold colors. On the other hand, if you specialize in renovating old homes, you would use a more traditional (but still bold) font and familiar colors such as blue or brown.
Houck specializes in restoration projects, and they use bold, bright color choices. But they also rely on bold, strong-looking typography to show their ability to complete any project. The logo uses a wide, thick, sans-serif font. They then use a serif font in a taller height and thinner thumbprint (but still bold) to show their modern side and add a bit of creativity. The mix of different types works well to state their reliability, but also their ability to complete modern designs effectively.
When it comes to the fashion industry, you have a lot more room to work in trending typefaces. Even though it’s okay to take some chances in the types you use, keep in mind that you want a readable design no matter the size of the device used. Consider using unique fonts such as Aqua, Fontaine or Nagasaki. Use fonts such as Playfair or Bodoni for a fashion magazine look.
Choose colors which are bright and reflect the colors of the season. Pantone releases color palettes each season based on what appears on fashion runways, so you can choose the colors that will be “hip” in the coming season and adapt as changes occur over time. Although you may not want to change your entire design, you can easily change the colors of a headline or subheading to make your site trendier.
New Idea is a news and fashion magazine that uses splashes of color to draw the reader in. Note the pink line for the navigation of the page. On the main page of the site, they use the same color to highlight the feature article. However, the color could be easily changed to match current trends — something you can repeat on your own fashion-based website.
When it comes to corporate typography trends, stick with serious and traditional fonts. Of course, the exception is if your corporation is creative or aimed only at the younger generation, giving you more room for flexibility. However, most companies utilize fonts such as Helvetica or Georgia for a more traditional look. Think about fonts you might see on a university website or used for a museum.
Helvetica is a popular font you’ll see quite often and has been around since the 1950s. Helvetica has a similar look to Arial with some fine differences. Some of the bigger corporations using Helvetica include American Airlines, Target and Dole. Avenir is a sans serif font that has a more modern look, as it was designed in the 1980s. Some big companies that use Avenir include AT&T, Best Buy and Spotify.
If you want your typography to translate well across all devices, you might want to look at the Google fonts out there and choose one that has the look you want but converts easily, such as Rubik, Cormorant or Libre Franklin. Learn the personality of different fonts and choose the one that’s closest to your brand personality.
Lufthansa uses Helvetica for a very traditional look for their company. Since an airline needs to be seen as reliable and safe, using a more traditional and common font makes perfect sense. While you don’t have to go with such a common font for your own design, you can learn a lot by studying which fonts big companies choose and how they look on mobile devices as well as larger computer screens.
Entertainment is a unique industry, with a long history that combines traditional design mixed with cutting-edge concepts. You might see an old Hollywood movie studio with tradition galore team up with a new production company that follows current trends. Because of this, you’ll find a wide range of typography styles within the entertainment industry.
Paramount is an example of an older company with a very traditional typeface for its logo design. On the other hand, Pixar uses a more modern-looking font for their logo, with a lamp as one of the letters.
Figuring out the right type for your specific business isn’t always easy. For example, if you run a “paint and sip” business, you’d more likely go with something creative to show that side of your establishment. But if you run a dinner theater, you might go with a more traditional type to indicate the history of theater. Study what other businesses in your line of work use for their own websites and find something which is similar but uniquely yours.
Pirate’s Dinner Theater is a good example of meshing creative typography with a more traditional look. The logo is in a font that screams “pirates!” It looks similar to a font you’d see in a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. However, the navigation and body text on the page appear in “Google’s average font” — a font based on what popular fonts look like when averaged together. As a result, it has elements that are both serif and sans serif.
Choose a Tone of Voice
Typography sets the tone for your entire design. The impact of the font you use and the details you add may have a subtle impact, but they’re part of the first impression people have of your brand. Studying the type used by successful businesses in each industry gives you a feel for the best types of fonts to use.
Then, you can grow from there and put your own unique spin on each design. Find inspiration in trade magazines and the websites of other brands so your final type meets user expectations while still offering a surprise or two.
Lexie Lu is a web designer and CX enthusiast. She is a contributor to Marketo, Website Magazine and Envato. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dog, watching HGTV and baking. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.