The Art of Typography: How Language Shapes Web Design


A lot needs to go into web design, and those who are unfamiliar with it do not often recognize or appreciate the challenges that can often be faced. They may often feel that there is just one approach that fits all and is the perfect solution. What they do not realize is that there are so many facets and aspects that need to be considered.

Typography is just one of those elements that need to be considered strongly and with detail. It can have a huge bearing on whether a website is user-friendly and visually appealing to visitors. If it is, this can help to keep visitors on a page browsing for longer. But, if it is not, there can be disastrous consequences that can be faced, such as people logging off as soon as they log on or even telling others not to bother.

With so many websites across the internet providing the same - or very similar - services or products, website design has become an integral part of a business’s offering. For many, it has become part of their marketing strategies.

What is typography?

Typography is defined as the following:

“The art and technique of making the written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed in typed format on the internet. It involves certain arrangements which include the involvement of fonts, sizing, line lengths, and spacing between those lines and letters.”

While there are many who use computers to produce written documents or type emails, typography practices may often be very limited. Most text documents that are created are initially formatted and standardized, thus making it possible for authors and creators to simply get on with what they want to write.

However, web designers know that they have to consider each of the aspects mentioned more importantly. CMS software like WordPress and website hosting platforms can often differ, with each one potentially featuring different formatting techniques and processes. At the same time, designers need to account for the fact that the sites created may be visited on a multitude of different devices. Smartphones have become the norm for many who like to browse, but laptops and computers still remain as popular as they ever were.

Different languages can require different formatting

Numerous languages are available worldwide that feature unique characters and symbols, which can impact typography. Website designers need to consider each of the dialects that are to be used as they need to ensure all visitors obtain a faultless experience.

Those who speak or are learning Mandarin through online classes will know that there are various symbols and characters in this language that are not experienced in any other. Designers need to make sure they are able to overcome the challenges that this can present. They need to be able to showcase these characters vertically instead of horizontally (like many other dialects). In contrast, those using Arabic must remember that websites will be read from right to left, not left to right, like most other places worldwide. Certain letters can often require different spacing, too, thus making a web designer's job even harder.

Font choice is at the forefront of a web designer’s mind

The first thing that visitors are going to likely notice is the font of the typed text, thus making this an aspect that should be at the forefront of a web desinger’s mind at all times. Visitors want to be able to read any text that they see immediately and with ease. The font that is chosen plays a crucial role in this, and without the right one being selected and used, life can become rather difficult pretty quickly.

Designers can use fonts in a variety of ways to appeal to a certain audience or market demographic. They can use fun and outlandish fonts that are more playful to target a younger audience as it may resonate better with them. However, those who are looking to target a more professional customer may want to use more traditional fonts as they give a degree of professionalism and seriousness.

Selecting the font to use is not always an easy task for designers, as they can spend hours on it. While it is possible to change later on, it can be a tedious and time-consuming task. Additionally, if it is not correct from the beginning, then they could potentially lose out on successful conversions as people may not be willing to come back in the future, thus missing out on the changes that may suit them.

The text layout is also important

It is important to remember that typography also refers to the way that text is presented on a page. Web designers can spend hours making sure that the text and font - as well as the size - fit the page and are displayed in the intended and desired way. This can include blocks of text, spacing between the lines and words, as well as their position on a page.

text layout

If a website’s text appears to be too cramped together, it can provide a rather frustrating user experience, as the readability of the page becomes a chore. At the same time, if the spacing is too big, it can also provide a negative reaction, as readers may feel that it is disjoined and unprofessional.

Being balanced is crucial

While designers need to be versatile and creative with typography processes, they also need to ensure they are able to remain balanced. They need to make sure they are able to find the right line in which functionality and aesthetics meet together and work. If one works and the other doesn’t, then they both will likely fail to do the job required.

The main aim of typography is to have text that is legible, but without any creativity to the way it looks, it can appear dull and instantly create a negative thought in a reader’s mind. However, if it is too vibrant and is not too easy to read, then it can create issues. A skilled and balanced web designer will recognize these needs and will be able to accommodate both of them.

Final Thoughts

Typography can be one of the hardest challenges that a web designer can face, nonetheless, it is clear just how important it is. It can often be a thankless task, but one that involves a lot of work. Sometimes, trial and error can often be experienced to make sure the right fonts, sizes, and spacing are achieved.

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