In this article, UX Typography Guide, we will delve into the importance of typography in user experience. 

As UX professionals, we are well aware that typography can make or break the success of any website or application. It serves as the basic foundation of UX design since 90% of online content is in text form or body copy. 

The whole typography discipline, however, encompasses more than just this importance. It is more than just choosing which font looks more aesthetics for your brand, website, or app. 

In this article, we will cover and discuss the following:

What is typography?

Typography is classified as a design discipline that uses typefaces and the organization to create readability, usability, and user-friendly interfaces or experiences. 

Achieving good typography develops good UX as it optimizes usability by catching the users' attention. It also provides a higher chance of increasing conversion rates. 


Defining typography terms

While typography is a common terminology, in UX, there is a lot of confusion regarding the meaning of typographic terms. 

Here's a compilation of terms that are particularly relevant to UX designers:

Typeface

 Another word for typeface is font family, which comes from physical print and refers to the faces of the physical letter blocks.

A typeface is composed of fonts and includes the font weight and style used across all the characters, numbers, and symbols. 

Examples of typefaces are Arial, Comic Sans, Helvetica, and Times New Roman are all typefaces. 

Fonts

Fonts refer to specific weights within a typeface. Most of the time, a typeface and a font are commonly referred to as one, and however, these terms are entirely different.

You choose a typeface; then you can use a font. If you select Arial as the typeface, Arial bold, italic and regular would be the fonts. 

In other words, font refers to the distinct, stylized characteristics found within a typeface. 

Most likely, UX designers use 2-3 fonts per project, and these will be the foundation of typography and a vital element of the overall design. 

Character

The character refers to an individual element, such as a single letter, number, or punctuation mark. 

Baseline

The baseline is the invisible line where all letters rest. UX designers usually create a grid using the baseline of their chosen type, creating a coordinated and proportional layout.

x-height 

The x-height refers to the distance between the baseline and the line height of the lowercase letter x. 

If UX designers are working with a font with an unusually large or even small x-height, this can affect the entire interface and break the layout.

Stroke

A stroke refers to the straight or curved line length that creates the principal part of the letter.

The stroke is the foot-like element connected to the end of some typefaces' main strokes. 

For example, Serif typeface is about readability, as its tiny feet guide the readers' eyes to read the next character easily. 

But because Sans Serif is small, this typeface may not always render appropriately on screens. 

On the other hand, San Serif is a typeface without strokes or extra elements at the bottom part of a letter. 
For lower resolution screens, sans serifs are mostly preferred for digital UI. 

However, since technology is constantly improving, we can expect screens to be more equipped with better resolutions. Deciding the suitable typefaces and fonts will no longer be a factor.

Weight, height, and size

These elements in a design refer to the thickness, length, and overall font size of a typeface. UX designers can experiment with different weights sizes and use different variations on the user interface. This breaks the monotony of long lines of text and directs the users' attention to specific elements on the page.

Ascender and descender

These are the vertical strokes extending upward, exceeding the x line height, and downward beyond the baseline. 

Letter spacing/tracking

The letter spacing is the distance between the widest point of each character. Tracking specifically refers to the increase or decrease of the horizontal spacing between two characters consistently. 

White space

White space is also called negative space. This is the area between elements in UI design composition, and unbalanced white space is the area that will make a copy hard to read. 

Alignment

The alignment is how the body text is positioned. Alignment is composed of 4 primary alignments: left, right, centered, and justified. With alignment, UX designers can create a coherent composition. 

Hierarchy

Hierarchy refers to the arrangement of elements based on importance. 

In UX design, it is paramount to create a solid hierarchy to guide the users where to shift their focus first. 

Regardless of the screen size, if the UI has a lot of elements, it is the role of the UX designer to guide the users to focus their attention on the crucial details on the screen. 

Thus, the choice of font, weight, font size, letter spacing, line length, and all surrounding white space matters in creating the proper hierarchy.  


Principles of typography

Remember to keep several typography guidelines when designing a website or an app for a user-friendly interface. 

Here are the several typography principles for UX designers:

 Always keep in mind the readability, legibility, and accessibility

Typography should always be understandable; otherwise, it defeats the purpose of communicating information through text or body copy. 

Consider the user, the user's environment, and the medium the user utilizes to interact with your product or app.

It is also essential to know that color contrast can make or break accessibility, for example. When a light-yellow body text is placed on an orange or bright red backgrounds can become very difficult to read than a yellow text set on a light blue background. 

The use of the dark mode is another excellent example of showing how important accessibility is for the users.

The dark mod helps users increase their ability to read (readability) the overall legibility of the content on the screen as it helps reduce the discomfort of looking at a bright screen.

Some research studies showed that serif typefaces are not as accessible as sans-serif typefaces, most notably for dyslexic users. 

However, as UX designers, you should always test your UI designs first, no matter what other studies say. 

Too many typefaces impede an excellent user experience

Always keep the UI design of your typography simple. The best practice is to limit the typography between two and three typefaces in design. 

Too much of this can make your design look sloppy and confuse users. 

Also, using many typefaces adds to the file or font size and page loading time of websites and applications. When optimizing the user experience, use fonts available on the users' end. 

Pick the typefaces that complement and/or contrast each other

The typefaces you choose should not be too similar, or the distinction between them will be lost. You can create a contrast by choosing one serif and one sans serif font.

Be legible to avoid confusing the readers

Legibility is critical, and UI typography should not confuse the readers. Instead, UI typography should always consider the user's needs by checking the log user data. 

Practice and properly utilize typography tricks meaningfully. Avoid going overboard with your typography, as it will go over your users' heads.

Use typography meaningfully

Style your typography meaningfully to show and enhance the voice and hierarchy that you want to convey to your users.

Let us define style and texture:

Style

Refers to the use of textures, graphics, and the type of imagery. These elements affect the visual hierarchy and make room for UX designers to express individual design, voice, and personality.

Texture

The texture is similar to enjoying the advantages of size and color while adding depth and atmosphere when it comes to aesthetics. A good example is displacement, which gives a single element texture. It stands out with a textured background, making non-textured objects in the foreground stand out.

A great visual hierarchy is an indication of a great UX

US designers should always consider the importance of hierarchy. The type of hierarchy is essential for a website or app as it helps users browse through the content quickly. 

You need to organize your content based on priority, with the most important elements as the most prominent followed by other elements. 

Varying the font size, weight, and color is one effective way of creating a visual hierarchy. 

UX designers should design a page with tags in mind. For example, <h1>, <h2>,<h3>, and so on is a good tags hierarchy that also helps improve the SEO of the website.

Always make typography scalable

Always design a website or app that works well on desktop and mobile. Thus, always keep in mind to design the typography that considers the user's experience on both of these platforms. 

Always think about scaling your typography regardless of the screen size you are working on. 

It is helpful to define a scale for your font and typefaces initially at the beginning of the design phase. The scale guidelines should also be considered and include different operating systems and platforms.

Typography should enrich the present UX

As we've discussed at the beginning of this article, typography defines the overall visual language used to communicate with the users. 

In this sense, typography can set a mood on your website or app, and it can set the tone and present any product, website, or app the way you want users to perceive it. 

Spacing and layout whitespace

Space is an essential guide to emphasizing hierarchy, and the better line spacing within your interface is a good guide that can explain or suggests to users the functionality of the elements. 

Better line spacing impacts your visual hierarchy in two ways:

Proximity 

It is a powerful tool for UX designers as it refers to an element's meaning and functionality using visuals.

Negative space 

Negative space is defined as the area between and around elements or typography in UI design within an interface. UX designers utilize the negative space to see shapes and sizes more effectively and produce better-composed images.

The F-pattern in typography

The F-pattern is referred to the traditional, text-heavy pages like articles or blog posts. 

The term is coined based on the reading behavior of the user. A reader quickly scans down the left side of the page to look for information they are interested in. They promptly checked the left-aligned headings or topic sentences and stopped to the right when they spotted something interesting. 

The F pattern van help improve the legibility of the website or app.

Test and learn

As with any stage of the design process in UX, it's essential to test and learn. Trying out different typefaces and fonts and scaling from one platform to the next is a good practice to see which works well for your website or app. 

You may want to check your typography in another language as it is now possible for the app or website to be translated into another language. Ensure that when the typography is translated, the outcome looks good in content and aesthetically. 


Conclusion

Typography in ui design can seem an unknown real in the UX design process, but its importance cannot be ignored, especially when creating a positive user experience. 

Familiarize yourself with the basic typography terms and read the typography principles associated with user experience so that you can transform your designs with a better user experience. 

Remember, simplicity is your friend; don't overcomplicate your designs by trying to do a lot of things. 

The ultimate goal is to create a typography that is readable/readability, accessible, and understandable. Content is essential, and so is how you make the content look appealing. Thus, improving your typography also enhances the user experience. 

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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