You’re sitting on the subway train heading home from work and the train has just stopped at its next station to let commuters off. Instead of relying on the subway map overhead, you peer out the cart windows to catch a glimpse of the station’s name imprinted black on the wall. You have less than a moment to locate, read and actually comprehend what the that inscription says.
Little do we think of the process and of what goes into picking an
appropriate font. Designers are trained to always keep in mind the two most important qualities that text should have, which are a legibility (readable font) and high contrast. Thanks to designers, the Subway stations across New York City have been converted to a clean and crisp Helvetica from the scribe-like 1960`s Gothic Sans it used to be.
How can something so small, have such a big impact? When it comes to advertising, words are powerful, but the way the information is presented can have just as much of an impact on readers’ perceptions. The design and use of type can affect the way people read and digest the information that you present.
Ads need to be readable and visually appealing to work. Your choice of font, point size, colour and even letter spacing can make the difference between an ad that resonates with its audiences and one that flops.
When we read silently to ourselves, we hear a version of our own voice read back to us. This is called subvocalization. Have you ever read something in someone else’s voice? This is mostly dependent on the font choice.
Designers consider how a person uses their inner voice. Ask yourself the question, ‘What’s my type?’ My go-to typeface is Avenir. I find other fonts to be beautiful, artsy or highly functional and use them abundantly, but I have grown attached to Avenir. And whenever I’m choosing between the hundreds of typefaces that I have stored on my desktop, I follow my personal motto of ‘when it doubt, use Avenir’. We all have a typeface or two that we use frequently and keep going back to.
My advice to designers and content makers is to get adventurous, explore and to have fun with fonts. Remember that hierarchy is important. It helps organize and rank the information presented. Not every bit of text on a website has the same level of importance. Designs use text to guide the reader’s attention by arranging the headlines, sub headlines and body of the text in different font sizes. This way, each part remains easily distinguishable and allows its audiences to process information faster. Consider this next time you’re on a subway train facing an ad. Where do your eyes land?