A Guide to Website Typography for Architects and Interior Designers

This 1961 Home Improvement advertisement illustrates that value of typography when used together with architectural photography

Your website is the first place visitors research your firm and get to know your brand and if you choose web fonts thoughtlessly you risk being dismissed by prospects. If your brand is important, consider a professionally designed website. Font choice is one more way to distinguish your architectural or interior design firm from the competition. Architects and interior designers understand the need to convey their designs, services, and value visually with professional photography. Great architectural photography of your projects gives your website the information clients are seeking but too often we see websites where the only design character comes from the images. It's common to see architects and interior designers who use Squarespace just stick with the font that comes with the template, usually "Proxima Nova" or "Helvetica Neue" and drop a set of images without description on a pure white background. In my opinion, this approach does harm to your firm's brand by conveying visual laziness, discourages sales because your website looks like everyone else and it's boring and breaks the first rule in marketing by not being memorable.

So many architectural and interior design firms are missing an opportunity to increase the effectiveness of their website through typography. Choosing the right font can influence how visitors feel about your site as well as how they comprehend your work. 

By picking the right font, you can help project the image of your brand and give an understanding of who you are and what you do. Fonts can convey distinct emotions in the reader and provide your visitors with a sense of your professionalism, company culture and philosophy as strongly as images, colors and graphics.

The days where you had to choose from 10 fonts for websites have long passed. Web font services like Adobe Typekit or Google Fonts are widely accepted and open your site to a huge selection of typefaces that can enhance the readability of your content. Currently, there are over 3000 fonts available for use on a Squarespace website without the need for coding a custom upload. Knowing a thing or two about typography, font pairings and being able to speak on topics such as Black Letter and Kerning will help you better understand how to make font choices or enable you to discuss font choice with your marketing professional. 

Learning Typography Lingo

There are three primary design/typography terms:

When you talk about how much you like a tune, you don’t say: “That’s a great MP3”. You say: “That’s a great song”. The MP3 is the delivery mechanism, not the creative work; just as in type a font is the delivery mechanism and a typeface is the creative work.
— Stephen Coles - The Font Feed

• Font/Typeface - Font refers to a particular “style” such as bold or italic. A typeface is a group of fonts known as a “family", like Times, or New Roman.

• Serif/Sans-Serif - A serif typeface has small lines at the end of the stroke of characters. This style originated in ancient Rome when letters were carved in stone and is referenced as “Roman” typeface. Sans-serif typefaces have no lines at the end of characters and is referred to as “Gothic”.

• Script and Decorative - Script typefaces mimic calligraphy or handwritten styles where letters flow into one another and connect. Decorative typefaces focus on ornamentation or whimsy rather than legibility.

Psychology and Typography

Much research has been done on how a typeface can affect emotion in readers. Terry Childers, an economics professor, found during his study that typeface alone can affect how well readers recall text and how they feel about an associated brand. With intentional use of typography when branding, consumers can identify a company simply by its font. As the essence of a brand’s logo, that font alone can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars!

Another study by MIT researchers found that “good" or “bad” typefaces can affect a person’s mood as well as their ability to retain information. Typefaces can project a full range of emotions. When undertaking your web design, choose wisely.

Serif fonts can bring a sense of friendliness to a design that only uses sans-serif. Larger font sizes can elicit a strong emotional connection. For example, professional service firms such as accountants and attorneys should use a serif typeface to convey trust and professionalism. “Modern” companies, companies in creative industries (like architecture and design) or technology companies, should use sans-serif typefaces to give the perception of being forward thinking and futuristic.

Legibility and Readability

"Legibility" refers to a font’s characters and words ability to be readily distinguishable from each other. "Readability" speaks to the arrangement of words on the screen and how comfortable they are to read. When concerned with your website readability, be mindful of the size of the text and the line length of the copy.

Your website design is made more engaging based on some factors such as overall design, use of images, and how you format text through typography and font selection. The creative use of typography can help establish your brand and give your company a competitive edge!