Creating a website is an exciting task.

When you sit down to create a website you face a world of potential.

There’s so much your website can do for you: Increase your sales, grow your customer base, help you network, assist you in your job search, or even build your blog’s readership. And that doesn’t even begin to cover all the benefits of having a website.

But if you want to make the most of your site and reap those rewards, you need to put care and consideration into the planning, design, and creation of it.

Many things go into crafting a beautiful, and most importantly, effective website. It can be hard to see beyond the excitement of finding the perfect domain name and choosing the right website builder, we get it. That’s why today, we’re looking at an oft-overlooked site design feature: typography and font.

How to Choose the Perfect Font for Your Website

Typography and font may not seem like influential web design elements — after all, as long as your site visitors are getting the information they need, who cares what the letters look like and how they’re presented, right? Wrong.

The devil is in the details, dear reader. And these two seemingly small details, typography and font, can make or break your user experience.

What is a font? 

Fonts are “graphical representation[s] of text that may include a different typeface, point size, weight, color, or design.”

Have you heard of Times New Roman or Arial? How about Calibri and Comic Sans MS? Even if you didn’t know them by name, we bet you recognize them by sight. These are all examples of different fonts.

Why do font types matter?

Successful businesses know that different fonts communicate different messages to their audiences. This is why they have to be carefully chosen, no one wants to accidentally send the wrong message to their customer base. We’d be willing to bet that there isn’t a Fortune 100 company out there that hasn’t painstakingly decided on the font they use to communicate with customers.

Did you know that Steve Jobs is often called the “Grandfather of Typography?” While creating his first Mac he also designed and created ten different fonts. He understood the visual power of the written word, and sought to maximize it with newer, better fonts.

While Steve Jobs didn’t invent typefaces (that was more Johannes Gutenberg and his good ol’ printing press) he did revolutionize the world of digital typography by giving us a variety of fonts that allowed us to visually express ourselves. Before he came along, one of the more ubiquitous fonts was Digi Grotesk. Here’s an example from Fonts geek of what it looks like.

Could you imagine a world where the Internet largely used only one font? It’d be a pretty boring place, in our opinion.

Types of Fonts

There are thousands upon thousands of different fonts, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all suitable for web design. In fact, you’re going to want to make sure the font you choose for your website is web safe.

Web safe fonts are easily read by a variety of different Internet browsers. If you’re not using a web safe font, chances are it could display very differently on someone else’s browser as compared to your own.

Different fonts convey different feelings to the reader, so let’s take a look at some common font families that you’ll likely recognize. We don’t recommend using too many different fonts on your site as that could end up looking busy and messy.

Serif Fonts

Serif fonts or typefaces are distinguished by a decorative stroke at the end of the letters (both horizontal and vertical end.)

Popular fonts like Georgia, Century, and Times New Roman are Serif. These are two very well known fonts, and you can’t really go wrong using them. They’re both web safe and easily readable.

Serif fonts are generally used to give an elevated, formal tone to your website.

Sans Fonts

Sans fonts differ from serifs in that the letters have no serifs, or decorative strokes, on them. Did you know that “sans” means without in French?

These letters are without decoration, so they’re legible, modern, and clean. You’ll likely recognize fonts like Helvetica, Verdana, or Lucida Sans.

If your site aims to be modern and straight-forward, try using a Sans font instead of Serif.

Choosing fonts for your website.

Now that you know what fonts you should use for your website, and why they’re important, it’s time to consider the number of fonts you should use on your site.

We recommend choosing three fonts to start with: A primary font, a secondary font, and a tertiary font.

The primary font should be used the majority of the time. The secondary and tertiary fonts are supporting, and there to enhance or call-out specific things on your site.

Check out this visual guide to typography from Canva to see what your fonts can really look on like on your site, and let us know what fonts you chose to use in the comments!