Picture this: A user lands on your nonprofit’s website for the first time hoping to learn more about your mission. However, they’re met with text that is difficult to read, making it hard for them to explore your content and understand the ins and outs of your organization. As a result, they navigate away from your website before they can see stories from beneficiaries or information about any social impact assessments your nonprofit has conducted.
You might not immediately think of it, but font is a critical element of your nonprofit’s website design. In fact, it can be the deciding factor between whether visitors stay or abruptly click off because your content isn’t legible. Even fonts that are legible might not accurately represent your brand, throwing off the overall design of your site. So, how do you choose the right fonts for your digital presence?
In this article, we’ll explore strategies you can use to choose the best fonts for your brand and tie your website together. But first, let’s cover why choosing the right font is so important in the first place.
Why is choosing the right font important?
With so many font options available, it’s tempting to just choose any font that looks good and use it throughout your content. However, choosing the right font is actually a much more involved process that can make or break your web experience.
Font directly affects the following elements of your nonprofit website design:
- User experience: A harmonious font choice that complements your overall web design will contribute to a positive user experience. As a result, users will be more likely to explore your website and take important actions like donating, signing up for your volunteer newsletter, or registering for your upcoming event.
- Readability: Readability refers to how simple it is to scan through the content on your website. Even if your website copy is inspiring and includes effective appeals to donate and get involved, the wrong font can take away the value of your content. By contrast, a simple and legible font will make interacting with your content a breeze.
- Branding: Font is a key component of your nonprofit’s visual identity, which helps to communicate your organization’s personality and engage users. Kwala’s guide to nonprofit branding recommends selecting fonts that align with your brand to create a more cohesive web experience for users. For example, a nonprofit targeting younger audiences that wants to create a friendly atmosphere might use a modern font like Calibri instead of a traditional font like Times New Roman.
- Emotional impact: Different fonts can evoke different emotions in your supporters and affect the way they perceive your organization overall. For instance, modern fonts are often tied to innovation, while classic, traditional san-serif fonts are associated with professionalism and stability.
Choosing the right fonts can have a huge impact on your digital strategy, directly affecting whether you’re able to drive donations for your online fundraising campaigns, expand your reach, and develop strong donor relationships. As you think through which font to incorporate, it’s important to not only consider aesthetics but also what your font will communicate about your nonprofit.
What are the different types of font?
While there are thousands of fonts available, they can be categorized into six main font types:
- Serif: Serif fonts, like Times New Roman and Georgia, are popular on the web because of their professional feel. Serif fonts are distinguished by decorative lines at the end of the letters, also known as tails, that communicate formality. However, these lines can also distract users and make the text more difficult to read, making sans serif fonts an appealing option.
- Sans serif: As the name suggests, sans serif fonts don’t have the tails at the end of the letters, creating a clean and minimalistic appearance. Sans serif fonts, like Helvetica and Arial, are favored across the web because they create a more accessible viewing experience. This font type isn’t only easier to read, but it’s also a good choice for responsive design because it maintains its clarity across different screen sizes.
- Script: Script fonts, such as Dancing Script or Pacifico, can help to add a little emphasis to parts of your web content, such as your logo or certain subheaders. However, you should refrain from using a script font as your central body font, as this slows your reader down and visually reduces the quality of your website.
- Handwritten: Handwritten fonts like Patrick Hand are meant to look like a person’s handwriting and help to create a sense of personalization. Like script fonts, it’s important to use this font group sparingly and only where it will help to accent sections of your web design. For instance, a STEM education nonprofit might use a handwritten font for the headers of testimonials from their young beneficiaries, helping to connect the text with the person who authored it.
- Display: Display fonts, like Gord Quick, are primarily used for copy that will be shown in a large size on your website, such as titles and headings. These fonts tend to be very expressive and help to grab your audience’s attention as soon as they arrive on your landing pages. Keep in mind that these fonts are more known for their visual impact, rather than their readability, so it’s important to exclude this font group from your body text.
- Monospaced: Monospaced fonts, such as Courier or Roboto Mono, originated from typewriters and use the same horizontal space between each character, helping to create a uniform feeling. This font is typically used for displaying code, which your organization may already be familiar with, depending on whether you built your website from scratch or used a website builder. Many technology companies, like Microsoft, choose to use monospaced fonts because of their technical associations, but your nonprofit might feature this font group in graphics or headlines to add a unique touch to your content.
Out of all of these font types, it’s recommended that you start your search for the perfect font in the sans serif group. As mentioned previously, sans serif fonts help to enhance your website’s readability while delivering a modern and fresh feel that can speak volumes about your brand.
Tips and Best Practices for Choosing Your Fonts
Now that you’ve got the basics of font covered, let’s explore how you can select the right fonts for your website and ensure your content is legible for all audiences.
Make sure your fonts align with your brand personality
To kick off your search for the right fonts, you’ll need to consider your brand personality. Is your nonprofit formal or casual? Do you want to come across as forward-thinking, or traditional and grounded in historic principles?
More playful fonts communicate a friendly and welcoming feeling, while straightforward fonts like Times New Roman are more professional and create a serious yet professional feeling. Think through what makes the most sense for your nonprofit and its goals.
Choose complementary header and body fonts
Your nonprofit might choose to use different fonts for header and body text. In this case, it’s essential that these fonts aesthetically work well together to create a unified viewing experience. Make sure the fonts you pair together are within the same font family to avoid design clashes.
Rather than manually configuring your fonts for your headers and body text every time you create a new page or post, Morweb’s guide to nonprofit website templates recommends leveraging a site builder with built-in layouts. With the help of your website builder, you can add custom fonts and branded elements to ready-to-go web templates, and then reuse these elements each time you generate new content.
Use the same fonts consistently
Once you know what fonts you’ll use, use the same ones consistently across your website and your marketing materials. This cohesiveness will help increase brand visibility and trust with your supporters, so when they encounter your content, they won’t question whether it belongs to your nonprofit.
Consider the size and color of your text
On top of choosing the right fonts, you also need to pin down the colors and sizes to use. Pick a high color contrast so your text will clearly stand out from the page. For instance, a white background with black text has the highest contrast and is easy to read.
For size, your font should be easy to read across different devices. Work with a comprehensive website builder so you can automatically optimize your website for mobile devices and ensure your content is always legible.
Font is an important component of any web design, so carefully think through the fonts that will create a positive user experience while accurately representing your nonprofit’s brand. As you share content to your website, track web metrics like total page views and conversion rate. This will let you know how your website is performing as well as point you to ways to improve your design, and potentially your font choices, to better meet your audience’s needs.