I have always been fascinated by typefaces and fonts. In fact, at the office, I often spend waaaaay too much time choosing the fonts in my email program. A font for the body, one for my name in the signature, one for my title, and another for my contact information.
If you’ve ever spoken to me in person, you’ll hear me rail against a couple of things in online publishing: white space and sans serif fonts. I absolutely cannot stand those two things. Too much white space assaults my eyes and makes any web page difficult to read. Don’t get me started on serif fonts. Just choose a serif one and move on. Seriously.
Apparently I’m not the only one that has issues with fonts.
According to this study by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, more people “were more likely to believe a statement when it was written in Baskerville than when it was written in Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Trebuchet, or Comic Sans.”
So, how can you use all of this information when designing your B2B technology website?
Write for Your Audience
This is my #1 Rule for Writing, and it applies both on- and off- line. Sure, I enjoy reading things online, and prefer to do so in a sans serif font, but if you put a paperback or report in my hand, chances are I’ll want a serif font. Write for an academic audience, they’ll respond more positively to a serif font. Probably due to historical reasons. The first typewriters and printing presses used serif fonts because of spacing issues. First- and second- generation word processing software programs continued this trend.
Go Easy on the Eyes
As the Interwebs and our lives online & on-screen took off, we realized that these serif fonts were more difficult to read. So graphic designers started having some fun and came out with Arial and other related sans serif fonts. Look at Google Fonts today, and you’ll find over 160 types, Fonts.com lists almost 600.
Online audiences are used to reading clear text on sites, so sans serif fonts are going to be your weapon of choice on your B2B technology product site. Use a serif one, and you may send an out-dated message to your readers, and ultimately your prospects. You may be used to thinking about colors only when designing your website, but all this data means you’ve also got to consider the whole message, including your typeface.
Will the Numbers Change in the Future?
Most computers, operating systems, and smart phones use a variation on Helvetica, so it would be interesting to redo Morris’ experiment on a larger scale in the future. Say, in 10 years. Will we find Helvetica or Frutiger to be as believable and trustworthy as Baskerville?
What do you think? How much of an influence do you think font choice has on your B2B technology marketing message? Are you more or less trustworthy based on your choice?