Are visitors coming in to your blog – which you feel has great content – but they’re not returning? Maybe your typography is at fault. Bad font choices (family, size, color) make for a poor reading experience.
I’m surprised at how many of my colleagues don’t realize that their blog is difficult to read. Most of them don’t mind my saying so because it’s constructive criticism. (I’ve had a long love affair with the printed word and with typography in general, though I am not a designer.)
So if someone, maybe me, tells you your blog posts are hard to read, don’t be offended. They took the time to tell you. It doesn’t mean your site is not otherwise visually appealing, just that good web typography might make a significant difference in your site’s success.
Here are the regular culprits:
- Poor font choice. It’s an unfortunate fact but Serif fonts such as Times Roman just do not suit the computer screen. Microsoft spent a lot of money to find out that the Sans Serif fonts Verdana and Helvetica are best for body text on computer screens. Just keep in mind, however, that Sans Serif fonts make large blocks of text very difficult to read for prolonged periods. You need to break up your text.
- Small text. Using a very small font seems to be a trend amongst younger bloggers. As I’ve said before, that’s fine. Just don’t expect me to be a regular reader. (Or maybe you’re adopting Kurt Cobain’s motto of not trusting anyone over thirty – or something like that.) It’s not like you have to worry about the cost of newsprint, so I don’t see why this is such a popular option. (Just wait a few years and you’ll know what I mean. Eyesight decreases once you hit thirty, if I recall.) So please consider 11-14 pt body text.
- Colored fonts. No!! Well, I’m a design minimalist (most of the time, though it’s harder on monetized websites) who believes in function over form. Colored fonts are most likely to reduce contrast on your web pages. What’s worse than colored fonts is this incredible urge by so many bloggers to use light gray text. Some web designers aren’t helping things because I see this most often on their sites and newly-released themes. It’s fine if instead of straight black text you use a dark gray text. However, light gray makes it difficult to read blog posts – especially at night time. Low contrast text can cause eye fatigue, which in turn can produce headaches for some people.
- Colored backgrounds. Please, no! This is not a typographical issue, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen otherwise great blogs with colored backgrounds and small, light gray text. The worst part is that many of my fave bloggers (also colleagues) do this. It’s a shame that I have to stop reading them. (I no longer use RSS readers. At least I suddenly realized I haven’t for about six months, maybe longer.)
Obviously, you’re free to do what you like, but if you don’t make it easy for readers to actually read your content, don’t expect all of them to return. If after reading my pleas, you decide to commit these typographical offenses anyway, then here are a few suggestions that you should follow:
- Break up your text into sections with subheadings. (Sans Serif body text and Serif headings can help build contrast.)
- Use bold text for visual contrast.
- Use bulleted lists, which inherently add white space to your posts.
- Use pull quotes, which also add white space and visual punch.
- Do anything that increases white space or contrast, and generally makes it easier for the eye to concentrate on your content without fatigue.
On a related note, one WordPress theme that I’ve come across recently with very nice typography is designer Chris Pearson’s Neoclassical.
And now, once we find a Drupal designer, Performancing could do with a bit of an overhaul.