Type Design’s Increased Importance with Responsive Sites

Posted By Trending Topics In UX & Design 04/5/2013
User experience design - Typeface

Font type and textual presentation is one of the most important user experience aspects to consider with responsive design. The industry is so hot right now that many sites are being rolled out at breakneck speed, often sacrificing valuable user experience features to produce a quicker rollout. Typecast.com recently published an article reminding mobile app developers of typography’s importance to the mobile user experience.

The article, written by Paul McKeever, states, “in our rush to make sites work well across a plethora of mobile devices, tablets and desktops, many of us have overlooked a crucial concept: we should be designing for the reader, not the device. We must remember that the web is fundamentally a textual medium. People use it to read content and complete tasks. Remove the text from almost any popular site and it becomes impossible to use. This means those differences in screen size, device resolution or text rendering don’t matter in and of themselves, but only because they influence how someone will read our content.”

In McKeever’s view, “Designing for a responsive web must now mean starting with type first.” McKeever points out that user experience and design may be a relatively new pairing for web development, but it has been around in printed form for as long as the written letter. McKeever writes, “Ensuring that content is readable, accessible and attractive regardless of the technology used has long been the role of typography. But type is everywhere, so we take it for granted. We forget exactly how much of a brand’s identity is rolled up in the typography. While a brand’s personality starts with its people, its primary expression is through the language it uses to deliver its messages. And that language is delivered through the type. The two are inextricably linked.”

Aspects controlled by type include brand identity, a role in communicating implied messaging, placing emphasis for the reader, and complementing the overall design theme on a website.

How has typeface impacted your user experience on various responsive design websites? Have you ever felt that readability was lost in the shuffle?

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