Font size and type can easily improve website usability. They are key elements in a website that not only have an impact on its readability but also on the brand it represents.
Here are some of the insights about fonts based on research from recent years.
1. Avoid Smaller Font Sizes
If you want people to really read a piece of content and support text sizing by browsers, avoid small font sizes (8 pt, 10 pt).
Research (Beymer, Russell & Orton, 2008) in this field, using eye-tracking methodology, has shown that larger fonts such 14pt lead to shorter fixation times, but longer return sweep times (the time needed to go back to the beginning of the next line of text), because the lines get wider.
In other words, large fonts are easier to read, but we should keep the lines short to minimize the return sweep times to shorten the reading time.
The likelihood of site abandonment increases if a user perceives that it’s taking him or her too long to go through the text on a website.
2. Consider The Fonts’ Personality
Fonts are also associated with personality traits. They can set the tone of a website (Shaikh, Chaparro & Fox, 2006) and speak volumes about a brand.
3. Use ClearType Whenever Possible
ClearType is a font treatment used to make characters appear smoother on low-resolution displays. Research (KLeiman, Choi & Bias, 2006) showed that ClearType can lead to faster reading.
4. Consider Using A Slightly Atypical Font
If you want people to remember the material, hard-to-read fonts may help in some cases. Research has shown that less traditional fonts help to retain information longer compared to more common fonts (Diemand-Yauman, Oppenheimer & Vaughan 2010).
5. Use Numerals
To represent most numbers, it is better to use numbers (1 ,2, 3, etc.) instead of words (one, two, three, etc.). They make numbers more visible.
In conclusion, choose your font size and type with care to improve not only usability but also to support and communicate your brand.
(An earlier version of this article was originally published on May 1, 2012. The article was last updated and revised on June 24, 2019.)