Typography in web design until the last few years was limited largely by technological boundaries. Prior to the 2,000’s, browsers supported only a handful of font choices. More recently, especially over the last year or so, adaptations of new browsers and other technological advancements are allowing designers to embrace the use of many more fonts and use typography more creatively and effectively when developing web sites. With these advancements and possibilities, certain trends have emerged over the past year.
First among the trends is the use of large fonts. The popularity of larger monitors and the additional space they offer have made the use of larger fonts the default choice on many design projects. In addition, the crisp, high-definition screen resolution on tablets such as the new iPad (which reduces blurriness) have also contributed to the popularity of larger size type. Larger fonts are not only easier to read, but also work exceptionally well as stand-alone design elements, especially with appropriate fonts.
Designers are now using low contrast text. They are no longer defaulting to the old formula of dark text on light background facilitating design choices that wouldn’t otherwise be available in standard black-on-white text. While many say lower contrast reduces legibility others say reduced legibility actually forces greater concentration which increases the chances of people actually reading your site’s text. Visitors are forced to pay more attention and retain the information longer.
Another trend has designers experimenting with mixing font weights in the same design. By using various font weights with 100 being the lightest, up to the heaviest at 1000, designers are afforded the opportunity to enhance any design -often to quite dramatic effects.
Lastly, handwriting fonts or ‘wedding’ fonts as some have called them – fonts with excessive curls, extra glyphs and flourish have become very popular. This text type looks as if it was written by hand and gives a friendly, open and approachable feel.
Now close to 50,000 fonts are available for website designs that work on virtually all web browsers including Internet Explorer. (IE has supported Web fonts since version 4.) With web designers no longer limited to –Arial®, Georgia®, Trebuchet® MS, Times®, and Verdana® faces – they are free to use typography to enhance web design in any way they can imagine.