When Typography Does All the Talking

Periodic Table of Typefaces

Periodic Table of Typefaces
Graphic design is certainly a form of art, and many especially innovative design specialists figure out effective ways to strengthen the impact of text, whether it’s words that are part of a banner, the navigation bar of a website or even a magazine insert. One major way they do that successfully is by tweaking the visual aspect of a design so it speaks even more powerfully to viewers than the words themselves. We’ll look at some characteristics of that useful skill below.

Ability to Cause Physical and Emotional Reactions

The background that text is set against can play a huge role in helping words “pop.” A black font against white paper is a classic method, but it’s one that’ll likely be timeless. Just look at how effective black and white design is still. A word like “Welcome” can cause a person to think of a best friend, and even feel his or her mouth twitch up in a spontaneous smile. If that word is positioned near the top of a page and in a broad, noticeable font, it ties in well with those two responses, because it’s perhaps as close that words on a page could come to the warm greeting of a friend someone hasn’t seen in a long while.

On the other hand, if the same word is against a neutral background, shifted over into a corner, and in small print, you might start wondering if the tone behind the printed words is really very welcoming at all. Your brows might furrow in concentration as you try to make sense of underlying meanings, too.

Talented graphic designers are well aware of these kinds of reactions in response to things like font size, color and placement. That could be a big part of why some advertising campaigns are rampantly successful while others only moderately resonate with viewers.

Making Typography Reinforce the Meaning of Words

FAT font 

A word like “plump” that’s written in a slim, willowy typeface likely won’t grab viewers as much as if it were printed in a font that’s thick and has a three-dimensional quality.  When done well, the technique of matching typeface choices with the definition of the word that’s being spelled out makes a graphic design stick in the minds of viewers.  Word association still rings powerful with viewers.  Empire-CAT uses a subtle symbol association next to a hard, straight-lined font which reaffirms their industry.  Then, even if they forget the exact word on a page or screen, the attributes of a typeface will be enough to jog the memory.

Empire CAT Typography

Arranging the Height and Spacing

It’s essential for headlines to be easily readable, but that same necessity extends to anything you want to others to notice. While working with text, designers learn to play with the height of letters, plus the space between each. Otherwise, the outcome can look so cramped that viewers hardly want to take the time to read what the text says, let alone take time to study it and get to the heart of its meaning.

Clearly, words can say a lot, but certain features of the way those words appear on a page can combine for powerful results. It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but with the help of a knowledgeable graphic designer, a catchy message and appropriate typeface could say even more than that when used together.

Shane Patrick Jones is a CRO and Conversion Design expert who loves to share his inspirations and opinions on all design related matters.  Follow Shane on Google+ and Twitter.


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