Fonts 101 - a beginners guide for the busy entreprenuer

When it comes to visual branding, the most important things I stress to clients is to remain consistent and to keep things simple.

One of the biggest signs that you’re not following that simple design rule is font usage. It’s the easiest way to tell a apart the professional websites and graphics from the DIY versions. Fonts are a big way that your clients will remember your brand and what you stand for and it’s an area that every business owner should understand.

And here’s the best part:

Font usage is one of the easiest things a DIY entrepreneur can fix on their site and branding to make it look professionally done.

Psst: are you currently looking for your brand font? Here’s where I get mine >

Here’s 5 tips for understanding and using fonts on your website and branding:

1. Let’s understand what font actually means. Font is the styling on a Typeface. For example, Helvetica can be bold or italic. A typeface battle is like pitting Helvetica and Times New Roman against each other.

So, instead of telling your designer: “I want a really feminine font,” you should say “I want a really feminine typeface. But don’t worry, even designers use them interchangeably! Just know the difference to avoid confusion.

2. To buy or not to buy… Depending on the style you’re looking for, typefaces can get expensive, especially if the one you want has different versions, such as italic, font weights, etc. On the other side are free typefaces. These can be great when you find a good one – but you have to get a good one. Issues can arise from these downloads, including not enough options for weight.

The choice to purchase is yours. If you prefer to get a free version, try Google Fonts. They’re easy to install on your site, from a great source, and you can download them to use in designs.

Whether you’re getting it free or buying, make sure you read the fine print. There are sometimes limitations on how you can use the fonts. It could be print only or a certain number of visits on your website. The license might also only be available for a couple years.

3. Typefaces and Fonts have personalities. One that designers make fun of a lot is Comic Sans, when it’s  not really a bad typeface at all! The issue occurs when you’re creating a professional design, such as a brochure, and using that child-like styling.

Think about what you’re creating and who you want it to appeal to. Then look at your chosen typeface. Is it feminine when you actually wanted to appeal to manly men or body builders?

4. Know the basics of user experience when it comes to text. This will make things easier to read, especially on your website.

  • Lines should be no longer than 75 to 80 characters wide and no less than 60. This makes reading your amazing copy easier on the eyes.
  • Have enough spacing between lines (but don’t over do it!). If the lines are so close together that when you squint they start to blend together, increase the spacing.
  • Keep a clear and consistent hierarchy of the typefaces and the important stuff. For example, each main heading will use a special font while everything else will use Helvetica. Sub-headlines, probably below the main one, will always be bold. Knowing your brand’s guidelines will help you look professional and put together.

5. Keep it simple and easy on yourself. I always provide 2 typefaces to clients (max 3) because not only does it make your brand look professionally done, it makes it easy on you when you need to create your own graphics. Here’s an article on how to pair fonts >

Think Kate Spade, Henri Bendel, and Target. How many different fonts can you spot on their site? Not many, right.

Instead of containing your creativity, this allows for a more cohesive looking brand.

Knowing the above tips for fonts will help you talk with your designer and create your own designs with ease.

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