5 Digital Typography Trends in 2017


In simple terms, digital typography refers to the artistic technique of constructing and arranging a typeface to make copy legible and visually appealing on screen. Typically this includes features like font style, size and placement and this design technique has increasingly become a big player for the creative team behind a websites successful development.

For a skilled web designer typography can be central to the success of a customers online platforms and the process is about much more than simply ensuring your copy is readable. The choice of typeface and how you position, creatively display and style copy within digital channels can be the lynchpin of truly great website design.

Here’s the Douglas view on 5 of the most important digital typography trends of 2017.

1. Responsive typography

With consumers accessing content from an ever increasing number of screens and with technology evolving at a rapid pace it’s a no brainer that in 2017 designers must continue to consider how a font looks on a diverse list of devices (including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops) to offer users a truly responsive browsing experience.

Without considering the responsiveness of web fonts when designing your site for multi-channel consumption, users will have a hard time reading your webpage content and completing the desired call to action to continue their user journey throughout the site. It’s therefore critical that your brands typeface can shrink and grow accordingly to the specific dimensions of the browser’s screen through responsive design.

It’s important to bear in mind that styles that work on one device may not work on another. For example, on a desktop screen larger, floating headings work particularly well to create drama, yet replicate this on a mobile screen and this can actually break continuity and force excessive scrolling. The beauty of responsive typography is that the font size, spacing, and layout knit together to create a optimised text setting and naturally improve readability whatever your device of choice. Meaning you can be confident that however your visitors are accessing your content they are getting the very best user experience, whatever their chosen device.

2. Custom fonts

Tech firms have been increasingly working hard to create custom typefaces and we expect this trend to continue in 2017. Google proudly launched Product Sans, their custom typeface. Amazon introduced us to Bookerly, a serif-based typeface designed specifically for reducing eye strain whilst reading on a Kindle and having previously debuted it with the release of the Apple Watch, the team at Apple HQ have now completed roll out of San Francisco, their custom typeface available across their operating systems.

Wider than the tech-sector, custom typefaces even had a role to play in the recent US election, with both Democratic and Republican candidates having their own unique font identity. First came Unity, designed exclusively for the Hilary Clinton campaign and then later came BF Tiny Hand, brought to life by Font Bureau and Buzzford as a playful skit on now President Trump’s distinctive handwriting.

Custom fonts can offer a brand a unique visual appearance, allowing a business to further stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace and we can expect to see more adopters in 2017.

3. Bold typography

Over the past year we’ve noticed a trend towards large, bold, daring typefaces, and 2017 looks to be no different. Bold typography is designed to catch the users eye and grab their attention when browsing online and is an effective technique for increasingly saturated digital channels.

With whitespace a continuing web design trend the use of big bold typography is critical to help add balance and structure to the page and ensure text isn’t lost amongst the visual noise. Bold typography and distinctive font choices allow your website to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.

4. Google fonts

Google Fonts (free open source fonts available for use by web designers) continue to improve year-after-year and they offer a huge number of benefits to adopters.

With a huge number to choose from in a variety of designs, they can be used in a range of sizes (starting at below 10px and going up to above 100px) and they work well on any screen. They offer a great solution for both designers and users alike. As Google Fonts become more mainstream – and more and more sites utilize them for copy – the speed at which a page loads increases, meaning maximum efficiency for your website and quality interaction for the end user.

There are currently 818 free open source fonts available and we can expect to see many more created in 2017.

5. Handwritten styles

An emerging trend set to continue is 2017 is the use of handwritten typefaces. Favoured by designers to create an informal, personalised experience the welcoming appeal of a handwritten typeface is more popular than ever.

As brand story telling becomes a key tactic for digital marketers in 2017, the use of a more cursive typeface can go a long way in gently guiding a consumer through a targeted user journey, evoking a friendly, conversational tone and establishing an engaged relationship between company and customer.

Of course a key consideration when opting for handwritten font is readability and it’s important to ensure that any designs are legible across all accessing devices.

Typography is one of the many important design innovations a brand can use to successfully forge a unique identity and narrative that resonates deeply with their target audience in 2017. To find out more about Douglas’ design experience take a look at our portfolio

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