Blogging basics: 4 tips for better typography
Some people don’t like to read. If you’re an obsessive blogger who works in a vacuum, that might come as a bit of a shock, but it’s true. With so many other things to do (climbing mountains, traveling the world, taking risks, watching Netflix), people just aren’t reading like they used to.
Sure, there are still some of us who read “for fun,” but many others only read when they have to—you know, like when they need to know how long to cook their frozen pizza. For them, reading is about figuring out how to do something, or learning about something that’s happened. It isn’t fun, and it isn’t something they’ll do for any longer than necessary. Give them an excuse to stop and they will.
A few weeks back, we covered several factors that can help or hurt your site in our post on A/B testing. But one we glazed over is actually one of the most important when it comes to pleasing reluctant readers: typography. In today’s post, we’re going to share some tips for getting it right, and hopefully turn some of those Haven’t Read a Book Since High School-ers into avid readers—of your blog, at least.
Tip #1: Less is more
Now that the idea of web-safe fonts is no longer a serious consideration, it can be tempting to go hog-wild with fonts and typefaces (here’s a good explanation of the distinction). But don’t forget that each font you add will need to be downloaded and rendered by your reader’s browser, meaning the more you use, the more time it will take to load your site. Five or six fonts (not typefaces) is more than enough to create typographical interest without bogging down your site.
Tip #2: Don’t fall for fancy fonts
Yes, typography is about creating text that fits the unique personality and style of your site, but more importantly it’s about creating text that is clean and readable. If you really must go fancy, limit embellished text to branding and top-level headings, and use simple, easily deciphered styles for lower-level headings and body text. Ian Yates of Tuts+ recommends thinking of your fonts as table guests at a wedding reception: “One entertainer is usually enough, as too many strong personalities can make the atmosphere awkward, like an episode of Big Brother.”
Tip #3: Be generous with font size
Size 12 Times New Roman may be standard in Microsoft Word and Pages, but use it on your website and you’re bound to lose readers. Remember that your primary goal with typography is to make your content readable. If your content can’t be read without squinting, odds are it won’t be read at all.
Tip #4: Use the Golden Ratio
It’s a fairly common problem that you’ve no doubt experienced yourself: you’re reading a line of type and you find yourself starting to read the same line for a second or even third time. Sometimes it’s because you’re bored, but more often it’s because the lines of text are just too damn long. To keep eyes on your content, try to keep lines of text to 11 to 14 words on average, or use Pearsonified’s Golden Ratio Typography Calculator to optimize your paragraph width.
Getting people to read what you write isn’t easy, but by following these tips and being a little more thoughtful about how you use fonts and typefaces, you can transform your type and attract more readers to your blog. Just remember: don’t let the type get in the way of your message!