in Design

7 fonts not to use for your website

People –designer’s in particular– are passionate about fonts. Everyone has their favorites, yet everyone’s list of go-to typefaces seems to be just a bit different.  Despite these slight variances of opinion, we should all agree to run far, far away from the following fonts when working with anything resembling web design.


1. Comic Sans

Comic Sans

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard the negative press surrounding this otherwise playful font. Any number of unflattering terms have been used to describe it like childish, amateur and just plain ugly. Seriously though, are you designing a comic strip or five-year-old’s birthday party web site? If you answered no to that question, you should probably avoid using this font.


2. Papyrus


It’s a shame we’re not making a ranking of most intensely hated fonts ever conceived. We could justifiably start and end the list with Papyrus. Sometimes, in my most enjoyable dreams I like to think there was a time when this font was not only useful, but used well. Unfortunately, in just about any small town, you need only travel a few blocks before the inevitable mom-and-pop shop with a Papyrus laden logo jumps into view. Needless to say, this font is overused and almost without exception, used poorly.


3. Arial


Up until a few short years ago, every Windows-based machine was pouring out piles of Arial text. It was the default font and given its simplicity and generally pleasant styling, most people just stuck with it. Considering that one of the main reasons we choose a font is to bring uniqueness and authenticity to our designs, using a font as ubiquitous as Arial is a poor choice. Fonts like Verdana and Calibri that have subtle variations will likely serve you much better in the long run.


4. Trajan


This font follows a similar path to Arial. It was generously bundled with Adobe’s Creative Suite, therefore automatically being easily available to just about every designer. It’s a decent looking font to. As such, anyone wanting to add a little elegance and style to their text quickly put Trajan to use. Don’t get me wrong, when used to add authenticity to a title or in otherwise small doses, this font is excellent. Just don’t let it slip into any elements containing more than one period.


5. Handwritten Fonts


Often chosen for their apparent “uniqueness”, handwritten fonts like Bradley Hand ITC are a terrible idea. Font choice is a surprisingly powerful way to gain a readers immediate trust, or in this case, lose it. Handwritten fonts scream amateur and are generally pretty far down on the legibility scale. Not only that, but their organic nature makes them difficult to integrate with other elements. In order to establish confidence in your audience, try using fonts with a little more width and consistent lines.


6. Courier


One of the most legible fonts of all time, you’d think it would make for an equally great web font right? Well, not so much as it turns out. While it’s definitely easy on the eyes, what it gains in readability it completely negates with an utter lack of anything you might confuse for personality. If you have any desire to elicit emotion or connection with your audience steer clear of fonts like Courier that can make even the most exciting prose read like a scientific journal.


7. Vivaldi


While the fonts we’ve mentioned previously have all had their failings in a high-level, abstract sense, Vivaldi stumbles at a more technical level. In short, it has troubles with spacing. Words styled with Vivaldi appear to be “smushed” or “condensed” thanks to its script nature. In practice this makes for text that is at best difficult to read and at worst inconsistent. Though Vivaldi is an appealing font for formal occasions, it’s simply too much trouble from a design perspective.

Even with a list of do’s and don’ts, typography can be an unforgiving area of design. With as much thought as some designers put into it, others don’t even think twice. At times, very subjective, it’s almost impossible to please everyone. That being said, whatever font choices you make in your designs, it’s a good idea to never use a given font too much. What’s too much? I’ll leave that your interpretation, but erring on the side of caution wouldn’t hurt!


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