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Successful User Interface Font Guidelines

How Fonts Can Make or Break Your User Interface

Publishing digital text requires agile fonts that not only effortlessly guide your readers’ eyes along, but also appeal to them visually. The impact of a user interface (UI) font can be massive—just consider any time you’ve been faced with horrendous typefaces or poorly contrasting colors that make you want to clamp your eyes shut. There is a wealth of good font options out there, but choosing the right font for your UI isn’t always so simple. It can take time to work out which typeface matches your brand’s style, your readers’ needs, and your variety of content.

To get started on upping your font game, follow these nine guidelines for implementing fonts in your UI successfully:

Serif or Sans Serif?

The first question to consider when choosing a font is deciding on a serif font or a sans serif font. Simply, serif fonts are those with little feet (called serifs) at the ends of the lines in a character. Sans serif fonts do not have them (like this font you’re reading right now on the Kraus blog). Sans serif fonts are becoming increasingly popular on digital platforms as they tend to scale more cleanly than serif fonts, and are also easy on the eyes with their simplistic designs. But don’t count out serif fonts just yet, because they can often convey a much greater sense of sophistication and professionalism.

These are the most popular font families, but there are four others you should know about: Slab serif, script, handwritten, and decorative. These other four are less common and more stylized, but they are certainly still used and can be very effective depending on the personality that you’re trying to showcase. Pick a font that works for your content and your brand.

Font Scalability

To be flexible with your font within your UI, which may be hosting many different kinds of content, you must make certain that your chosen font is scalable. This means that it should be easily readable at various sizes, which will be important because it’s likely that the font will be used for everything from small labels to large headlines. As mentioned above, do note that many serif fonts tend to break down at smaller sizes, so be wary of those that are quite intricate.

Works at Different Weights

While it’s important for your font to scale well, it’s equally critical that your font work well at different weights for any time you bold it or use a lighter version for things such as captions. Be sure to try out a spectrum of weights to see how your chosen font holds up.

Distinguishable Characters

One of the biggest issues that sans serif fonts have are indistinguishable characters. A frustrating example of this is a font which makes a capital “I” almost identical to a lowercase “l”. To make things even worse, the same font might display the number “1” the exact same way if it omits the flag on the top and the line on the bottom.

Complimentary Fonts

When considering multiple fonts, be sure to choose two (or more) that complement each other nicely. A common rule of thumb is to choose one serif font and one sans serif font that don’t contrast each other harshly. Two different fonts from the same family tend to display poorly beside each other, because they are similar enough to be confused but different enough to rub the eye the wrong way.

Consistency

Be consistent with your fonts across your entire UI. Like your logo or products, the font that you implement on your webpages or app will represent the overall look of your brand. Choose something that represents you and stick with it. You may be surprised about how often we associate certain font styles with a brand, but just look at the website of a major company like Apple. It’s easy to remember that Apple leans on their sleek sans serif fonts that give the same smooth feel as their products.

Test with the Real Thing

Common practice when testing fonts is to use Lorem Ipsum placeholder text, however, testing with actual copy can give you a much clearer view of the way your font choice will look. Be sure to test it on the different media you will be publishing to (e.g. desktop, mobile, etc.).

Get Feedback

Upon testing your font, get feedback from other members of your team. How does it read for them? Once you initially implement the chosen font, consider soliciting feedback from actual users too. Simple survey questions on things like legibility and visual appeal can help pin down what font works best.

Big Body, Bigger Headlines

One thing to note when using your chosen font is to size it appropriately for different sections of your content. Overall, text is now sized larger than it was a decade ago. Headlines are big—on average, they sit at around 38px, which is about 2.5 times larger than the average body text (typically 14-16px). Bigger text is bolder to grab reader’s attention and hold it.

 

Need a bold website design with the ideal font choice to fit your brand personality? Our team of experienced designers at Kraus Marketing will find the right fit for you! Contact us today to learn more.