Using Web Safe and User-Friendly Fonts



Before your users even begin to read the text on your page, they notice the fonts. Just as body language and tone are important with speech, fonts are important with the written content on your page. As you likely know intuitively, a bold, bright font can express an assertive message. Or, a curvy, light colored font can express a more playful tone. Not only that, but fonts can also effect the amount of traffic that comes to your website by effecting load times and search engine rankings. For all of these reasons, we take great care in choosing which fonts are available in Site Manager. Our goal is to help you create a beautiful website which is both user-friendly and search engine optimized.

Here’s just some of the reasons why these particular fonts are chosen:

  • The screen is not like a printed work. Behind each character, there is a technical translation – a conversion – that tells the “bots” of the great internet technology what those characters are. Therefore, all websites are limited to either a) web safe, or web compatible fonts, and b) using a web font replacement code. The web replacement code is not recommended, and has been viewed for years as bad web design. Faithwebsites will not knowingly release “bad web design”.
  • With that in mind, we must look at web safe fonts. That is why all of FWS products are limited to web safe fonts – so that all of our customers content can be read by all browsers, smart phones, tablets AND by all search engines. You see, web safe fonts aren’t just for display readability on screens – they are also the same fonts that search engines, such as Google, know how to read.
  • Each font that is used on a site must be loaded. Every different font used, even web safe ones, increases page load times. That means that it takes longer for your web page to load on your visitor’s screen/device. Mobile phones and tablets need a MUCH faster load time. More than one font on a page can cause your mobile and tablet viewers frustration in how slow your pages load.
  • Google and other search engines measure your font usage and your page load times, and if you are using too many fonts, too much formatting, etc., it is considered cluttered and not user friendly. Users are expecting consistent and clean formatted content, and Google knows it – therefore they measure you, and thus rank you, by those standards. (NOTE: every instance of bold, italic, colored font loads a code called HTML or CSS, which if used in great volumes can slow down load time.)
  • Current standards for screen text readability dictates the consistent use of one main body font with consistent sizing and spacing, nearly always left aligned, and the use of formatting sparingly. Only two to three font styles should be used site wide, and the alternative font styles can be safely used only in your logo / organization name / footer and other designed areas of branding. Not as main body or regular site wide text.

These are just a few of the many technical, current trend and current protocol reasons that fonts are limited. Our newer designs are limited to one primary font and applied consistently throughout the site in order to ensure maximum readability, load time, and search engine optimization (SEO). Implemented sites have a very limited number of fonts to chose from, and DIY sites are given a few more options. Either way, we encourage all of our customers to consider these standards as you update and build new pages.

Sometimes, you have a specific marketing event that requires a special font for branding purposes. In those situations, you may wish to create a PDF document and link to that on the website. In creating a PDF, you are not limited to the fonts available on the web. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. You must create the PDF with the fonts embedded in order for the fonts to display as you have designed them for all users. Otherwise, the end user’s computer will translate those fonts to web safe ones, even in a PDF. Also, use some caution when designing your PDF.  A PDF embedded with lots of fonts can be really slow to load and those users on a slower internet connection may never be able to fully download the file/link.

This great article on Mashable discusses four basics:
  • In Readability, they address that it’s generally considered bad form to have more than 3 different font families.
  • In Mood and Message, they address the types of fonts and the use of font weights (bold). Different fonts, font weights, and colors can express different emotions. For example, a bold red font often signifies anger or yelling.
  • In Font Families, they address the biggest item that many admin users have to adjust to: print offers flexibility that web does not.
  • Finally in Cross-Browser and Cross-Device, they address one of the core reasons that fonts are limited in Site Manager – ensuring that your content is displayed on all platforms.
Looking to understand why web fonts are so limited? This short video by Google Webmaster Central answers some of those questions.

Hope this helps provide you with some understanding on the use of fonts on websites versus print, and how best you can use them on your own website.


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