UI Design

Typography in UX/UI: A Complete Guide

Scrolling, shopping online, reading blogs – whatever you do, you’ll find written words. 

The meaning of these words is one of the essential components, but it’s certainly not the only one. Have you ever considered the correlation between the meaning and the overall look and feel of the text?

Whatever your answer might be, keep reading because you’ll learn what typography is, its essential elements, and the importance of typography in UX/UI design.

A young man in a yellow shirt is looking confusing at Typography in UX/UI

What is typography

Typography is the art of arranging letters and text to make the textual content legible, easily digestible, and visually appealing to the reader.

In whichever product you use (especially digital ones) a designer (or a whole design team) carefully and strategically agreed upon a font style, size, and structure to deepen and convey the text’s message.

Even though the importance of typography rises every day, and you’ll most likely connect it to digital products, typography goes way back into the 11th century! The first example of typography emerged from Gutenberg’s Bible, which inspired and influenced Western civilizations.

Thanks to the world wide web, especially in the last two decades, designers can find and use a vast collection of new, appealing fonts. Typography in UX/UI design is one of the most crucial elements because it connects the overall design with the brand’s message.

Typography in UX/UI examples of font families

A typeface can help convey a message just by the looks of it. Notice the different vibes: modern, playful, warm, friendly, clean, etc.

The key elements of typography

There are several aspects of typography you need to know about: typefaces and fonts, white spaces, tracking, kerning, consistency, hierarchy, alignment, color, and contrast.

Typefaces and fonts

If you’re a design newbie, you’re probably confused and trying to understand the distinction between typefaces and fonts. 

A font is a graphical representation of text characters. A typeface is a design style that consists of multiple characters, which vary in weight and size. It is like “a family” of fonts which differ in weight, width, and style.

White space

Another aspect of typography in UX/UI design is white space. White space is the empty space that surrounds the text, images or other graphics in interfaces. Mostly, it’s the color of the background. Designers alter white space around the text by adjusting margins, line spacing, or padding. 

Even though white space can seem a bit trivial, its proper use can significantly impact the text’s overall readability, flow, and feel. For example, designers like to increase the white space when they want to highlight an essential section of the text.

Tracking

Tracking is a process of adjusting the space for a group of type characters which form a word and text block. Designers try to determine the appropriate spacing for all letters, making the text look cleaner and easier to read. Tracking is effective when users can easily read the letters in a word. Tracking is also known as letter spacing.

Kerning

Kerning is another method of arranging typography in UX/UI design. It has similarities with tracking, but they are not the same. As mentioned above, tracking is the space between all the font characters, whereas kerning is the space between just two type characters. 

Designers resort to kerning when they want to change the spacing between two particular letters to make it look more natural.

Consistency

A good designer always ensures the consistency of typography in their design. If there is no consistency with different typefaces and fonts, your product will look messy, confusing, unattractive, and hard to digest for future users. Consistency means establishing a hierarchy which directs the use of fonts, their sizes, and formatting.

Establishing and following such order will help the readers easily navigate the text by subconsciously noticing and embracing the hierarchy and help them read the text (and achieve their ultimate goal) with ease, which is one of the primary purposes of typography in UX/UI design.

Hierarchy

As we already mentioned, another aspect of typography is its hierarchy. Designers organize the text on their digital products by determining the use of typefaces and their styles, sizes, and weight. Hierarchy and consistency are crucial elements of typography. 

For example, if you look at our blog article, you’ll notice a larger or bolder typeface for the blog header, subheaders, or quotes. Such structuring helps you – the reader – navigate and scan the text more easily. A well-structured hierarchy of typography in UX/UI design means the job of conveying the message half done.

Alignment

Alignment means setting equal and adequate space, size, and distance between the elements – text or graphics.

Most UI designers use margins to ensure everything is aligned – the logo, the header, and the body of the text. However, there is a small space where you can create your “solution”, but keeping it clean, readable, and consistent is still critical. It’s always good practice to check the industry standard when designing an interface.

Color

Color is one of the most practical ways to make typography in UX/UI impactful. As a designer, you’ll have to pick colors that fit your digital product’s background and other graphics. Setting the typography of the product is not the time nor place to experiment with contrasting colors, or use too much of them. 

Such mixing and mashing with colors will result in only adverse outcomes, such as lower readability & digestibility and higher chances of disturbing users while reading and reaching their objective. A good UI designer will work to balance the color of the text, its nuances, hues, and saturations, with other elements to achieve a clean look and seamless experience.

Contrast

Designers resort to contrasts when they want to create a distinction or emphasize typography’s elements, such as using different colors, sizes, or even another typeface. 

When creating contrasts, you can draw attention to a specific message or area of the page, improve readability, or break the page. Good use of contrasts adds another level to the overall quality hierarchy of typography in UX/UI design and makes it easier for users to navigate.

Typography scale that shows different typefaces from "Subtly techie feel" to "Strongly techie feel"

Typography styles from subtle to obvious.

Showcasing tracking, kerning, and leading on a sentence

Tracking, leading, and kerning.

The importance of typography in UX/UI design

Long gone are the days of using Comic Sans or Monotype Corsiva to convey a message with important information!

Nowadays, users digest massive amounts of content daily, so choosing an outdated and messy font can evoke negative emotions in users and push them away from your product before they even interact with it. Therefore, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of the aesthetics of digital products. But aesthetics are not the most critical part; if you make sure to deliver straightforward, tidy typography with a clean and systematic hierarchy, there are lesser chances your text won’t be aesthetically pleasing. 

Typography in UX/UI design should only increase the legibility of the message, increase engagement rates, complement the copy, and bring the overall user experience to a higher level. 

Good typography will capture attention and encourage users to start reading. In contrast, chaotic typography will make the bounce rate skyrocket! That’s why UX and UI designers, UX writers, copywriters, and other marketing specialists often work together – to deliver enticing and captivating content that will look as good as it sounds. 

Good fonts, proper spacing, and intelligent choices of colors and contrasts will make users engage more with the text of your digital product. Additionally, focusing on typography in UX/UI design also builds the image of your business. When the overall typography matches the brand identity, it leaves the impression that a company has its affairs in order. Such an impression immediately elevates users’ trust levels and builds recognition.

Final tips and thoughts

Now that you’ve read our guide on typography in UX/UI design, we hope we have resolved some of your confusion and doubts.

But, we have a couple of handy tricks on our sleeve – consider them a reward for your passion and willingness to learn more! 😉

  • Explore typefaces and fonts and think of their uses in the industry. Not all typefaces can work for everything; for example, if your users are children, you should opt for bigger typefaces that are playful but still readable.
  • Mix and match (but not too much.) You should use a maximum of two typefaces in your digital product. More than that will cause noise and disruption the readability.
  • Scale it. This tip is particularly applicable when designing a website app users will interact with on desktop and mobile phones. Scale all the fonts and typefaces for all platforms – iOS, Android and Web.
  • Short. In case you don’t have a copywriter or UX writer in your team, always choose to make your text simple and sweet.
  • Prototype it and test it. You are a UX/UI designer, after all! Test the scales, animations if you have them, colors, and whitespaces; see what works best within your preferred users.
Overlaying two fonts to see if their skeletons match

If font skeletons match, that’s a good indicator that fonts will go well together

That’s all, folks!

We hope you liked our Typography in UX/UI Design guide. If you wish to deepen the conversation, please join our growing and wholesome community of product designers on Instagram.

If you want to broaden your knowledge about typography by learning from industry professionals, join the waitlist for our Ultimate UI Typography Masterclass!

For other valuable educating resources, explore our Learn section, where we offer heaps of courses, workbooks, and other resources that will help you up your game in the world of UX/UI.

The Ultimate UI Typography Masterclass

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Has typography always been unclear and puzzling to you? Do you lack confidence in your type decisions? You’re not the only one! This typography video course will elevate your typography skills and enhance your designs forever!

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