Last Updated on April 8, 2016
Most marketers know by now that increasing conversion rates is an entire branch of science itself.
Getting to the bottom of which presentation techniques and graphic design elements actually have a measurable influence on customer behavior has become something of a Holy Grail-type quest.
Thankfully, there are only so many variables to try. Here we’ll take a look at one of them – typography – and examine what you can do to take advantage of its flexibility.
Fonts Can Be Emotive
By now, typefaces like Comic Sans and Papyrus are running jokes among anyone who uses the Internet regularly. Knowing to avoid these and other particularly heinous fonts is a great starting point.
Part of the reason why certain fonts are so hated likely comes down to the fact that some fonts are simply better at imparting a certain mood or emotion than others. Can you even imagine, for example, an obituary printed in Comic Sans? It would completely undermine the solemnity of the situation.
While an obituary may be extreme example, certain fonts are simply harder to take seriously than others. Sure, many fonts are designed to grab the reader’s attention and entice them, but there’s definitely an element of diminishing returns. You don’t want to over-stimulate your readers. Rather, your choice of font should be something that can grab your reader’s attention in a subtle way, one that they might not even be aware of on a conscious level.
You’re trying to get them to click the “Buy” or “Learn More” button, right? If that’s the case, then you want to limit the number of webpage elements that can throw them out of the moment.
Maybe You Don’t Need a New Font After All
Most of us have, at one time or another, witnessed a vengeful wall-of-text on the Internet, written in all caps or in a bold font. While the writer’s lack of brevity certainly has something to do with the impact of their words, they’ve also mastered a truth that can be easily forgotten: caps-lock simply works. For better or worse, it commands the reader’s attention.
Make no mistake: you shouldn’t plaster “BUY NOW” in caps all over your website. Instead, consider the sizes and weight of the letters you’re using. Instead of caps, experiment with a tasteful use of bold and italics. You can subtly draw the reader’s attention where you want it and emphasize the things you want without figuratively shouting at them.
Remember that web design is an art. While you might be tempted to download thousands of fonts to find one your readers haven’t seen yet, it’s sometimes best to work with variations on what you already have.
Experiment With Color
Here’s another web design element that can result in alarmingly diminishing returns if you abuse it. When used tastefully, though, colorful typography can have a powerful effect on the reader.
In other words, avoid outdated design, most reminiscent of mid-nineties sites. Neon colors are absolutely off-limits: your goal is to gently guide your website visitors toward conversion, not scar their retinas until they lose their power of judgment.
A popular choice among graphic designers is a dark design scheme. This involves a dark background along with a lighter font superimposed on it. The look can be very visually appealing, but it can also give you the ability to casually draw the reader’s eye much more naturally than if you used bright, flashy colors.
Another popular strategy is minimalism. For example, 12 Keys Rehab embraces a minimalist design for their call to actions:
Coupled with a light box background and a supporting image, this action button demonstrates the following values:
- Peace of mind
- Higher status
These collective values have a direct impact on conversion rates; while hard to measure the actual value, designers know just how important a role aesthetics have in the ROI equation.
This site, Inspiration Feed, also embraces minimalist design with a refreshing header:
There are many design blogs in this niche; however, most have bloated headers that are trying to do too much. Inspiration Feed is clean and simple, allowing visitors to navigate without distractions or roadblocks.
Adjust the Number of Characters Per Line
Take a moment to consider the number of characters per line. You’ve likely come across the term readability in your Internet travels. Unlike legibility, which refers to the ability of a text to be read, readability refers to how appealing and enjoyable that text is to read.
It might not seem like a big deal, but the number of characters per line in web design is just as important as it is in book design. Readers have a tendency to get disoriented and lose their place while reading something with too many characters per line. On the other hand, too few characters will force them to scroll continuously as they read.
Find a happy medium. Designers seem to favor something between 73 and 90 characters to maintain optimal readability for the reader.
Not Sure What to Use? Run an A/B Test
Finding the right balance when it comes to typography size, color and spacing is sometimes simply a matter of trial and error. If you need some guidance, consider performing a simple A/B test to help you discover what readers are responding to.
Always remember that, as with many things in life, less can be more. Don’t throw out your entire design aesthetic at once; sometimes subtle changes can be the most effective.