Adding text to digital designs sounds simple, but with an ever growing amount of typefaces available, finding the right font or combination of fonts can be quite challenging. Effective use of typography results in clear communication, whereas poor usage can leave potential customers confused and questioning the professionalism of your brand. Whether you’re creating a social media post or adding text to a website, our Marketing Tip outlines five common typography mistakes to avoid.
Serif vs Sans Serif
Before we go into detail, it’s important to understand the difference between Serif and Sans-serif typefaces (fonts):
- Serif fonts include lines or dashes, known as serifs, on the ends of the letters.
- Sans-serif fonts are simply fonts without serifs.
Digital Design Typography
Mistake One: Overusing Serif Fonts
Although serif fonts have a classic feel, they can be more difficult to read, especially on screens or in small sizes. The use of serif fonts for emphasis can be very effective, though a general rule is to use only one serif typeface in a project.
Mistake Two: Using More Than 2 or 3 Fonts
With a wide range of fonts to choose from, it can be tempting to fall into the trap of using a lot of different fonts. Many use unique fonts to make a design stand-out, but this will actually end up making the design stick out for the wrong reasons. Another common mistake is using different fonts across different media, including on social media posts, websites and other promotional materials (e.g brochures). As a general rule of thumb, stick to two or three fonts that portray your brand and use them consistently across all platforms. Using the same couple of fonts will help improve brand recognition and also save you time when creating designs.
Mistake Three: Ineffective Use of Colour
Two key issues in terms of colour use in relation to digital design are:
- Using unflattering colour combinations. Imagine painting one wall black, one wall bright red, another a yellow-orange colour and the final side pink.The highly contrasting combination is completely overwhelming. Furthermore, colours used in branded designs should always be consistent across media platforms to improve brand recognition. If the design isn’t for a brand, there are several tools that you can use to create aesthetically appealing colour combinations such as the Canva Colors tool.
- The second issue involves text that is hard to read against a background. A common mistake is to use text that blends in too much on website banners or overlayed on other images. Ensure that your text stands out against the background and consider adding a transparent box over an image background. In this situation, you should also avoid using highly contrasting colours between the text and background. As a general rule of thumb, have one of the elements in a neutral colour/s and the other as a bolder brand colour.
Mistake Four: Not Creating Hierarchy
Using text to create hierarchy is a powerful communication method. Hierarchy is created by using two or three levels of text, often defined by the size of the text. For example, most web pages and blog posts have a heading, subheading/s and body text. In terms of website design, the correct use of the heading hierarchy is a significant SEO ranking factor. The heading is essential to communicating the key topic and/or messages. It’s important to remember that you often don’t have long to engage a user, but by creating hierarchy, visitors are able to derive key information in a short period of time, by skim reading the titles.
Mistake Five: Not Adjusting Text Space
Text needs space to avoid looking condensed and compressed. Space between text can be adjusted using three key processes:
- Leading: Involving modifying the space between lines.
- Kerning: Which involves adjusting the space between two letters.
- Tracking: is similar to kerning, but involves modifying the spacing between the whole word.
Another common mistake is the absence of negative space, which simply means blank space. Text is often used to fill in gaps, making the design busy and hard to read. Therefore, don’t be afraid of having space (within reason) between text.
Typography can be quite a ‘colourful’ process that involves many challenges, but when done right, it can significantly improve the legibility and effectiveness of a design. We hope that you can apply some of our tips to your designs.
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