How to Use Fonts for Conversion Rate Optimization
“The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing.” The Biblical adage written thousands of years ago holds true more than ever in the realm of online marketing. With an abundance of results in almost any conceivable Google search, web designers have their work cut out for them if they hope to capture the attention of users who, statistically speaking, only view about 28% of a website’s content before bouncing to another site.
How it Works
Typically, conversion rate optimization focuses on the most obvious components of the websites, like headlines, content, and calls-to-action. By optimizing each of these elements, web designers assume their CRO is complete, yet often are perplexed when their stats don’t seem to be greatly affected. “But I’ve made all the right changes!” they wail. “What am I doing wrong?”
What body language is to conversation, typography is to web design. Many eager web designers don’t realize that everything they have worked so hard to achieve can be undermined by a font that screams, “Amateur!” When choosing fonts, two errors show up time and again. First, when offered a vast array of flashy, fun and fancy fonts, creative types get the urge to giggle like a kid in a candy store and let their creativity shoot them in the foot by going overboard with cute. Secondly, and probably much more common, no-nonsense designers anxious to finish the job and get back to business simply use the default font, oblivious to whether that typeface will deter or hinder a user’s experience by being illegible or downright uninteresting.
Tastefully chosen fonts can set the mood for users before the website has even tried to sell them on anything. Here are seven tips to help choose optimal typography:
1. Understand the Difference Between Serif and Sans Serif
“Serifs” are the small flourishes at the tips of letters. They can be small and unobtrusive, like Times New Roman, or curly and gaudy, like Curlz. “Sans Serif” fonts are fonts without serifs, whether round and boring like Arial or bold and dramatic like Impact. For content that needs to be formal or persuasive, a serif font like Baskerville is effective and has been proven to generate believability. For content that is casual or needs to be very legible, a sans serif font like Futura, Helvetica, or Arial is more effective.
2. Less is more
Achieving simplicity should be the goal. Too much variety or too dense text can distract from the flow, causing the viewer to abruptly move on to the next site. Instead of entering in all the text and letting it fill the page, a much better approach is to provide only a small amount of information at a time. Just as text shouldn’t span the width of the page, nor should paragraphs continue into oblivion, letters shouldn’t be bunched so closely together that the user is forced to focus to read each word. Make the spacing between words, letters and lines adequate.
3. Choose Complementing Fonts
When pairing fonts, explore different font families to find typefaces that complement. Corresponding fonts provide interest and variety without sacrificing simplicity. Choose both a serif and a sans serif font: one should be used as a heading, and the other for the body. Complementary fonts can share kerning, which is the space between letters, proportion, or cap height.
4. Choose Contrasting Fonts
Although paired fonts should complement one another, they should also contrast. Obviously, the heading will be much larger than the body, but fonts can also contrast in terms of style, weight, form, and color. A heavy, dark font like Impact should be paired with a lighter font that will not compete with Impact’s strength. Similarly, an all-caps font like Copperplate should be paired with a lower caps font for the text body.
5. Default Substitue
If fonts are not standard to most computers, they may show up differently on different operating systems. High Tower Text may perfectly suit the purposes of a certain page, but if the user’s computer doesn’t accept it, chances are the stylish look that took so long to design appears to the user rather boring, with Times New Roman the default substitute. This is a major frustration for many designers that must be understood before assuming the job is complete.
6. Perserving Font Style
7. Enjoy Success
After designing and optimizing a website, performing an A/B test comparing before and after font improvement can tell designers if their changes have been effective. If so, one will enjoy plenty of levels of success in their campaign.
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