When it comes to user interface (UI) design, typography is one of the most important aspects to consider. Not only does the right typography help to convey the brand; it also plays a crucial role in ensuring readability, making sure that your website or app is user-friendly and accessible. If you’re faced with the task of choosing the right typography, the good news is that typography has evolved considerably over the years. Back in the day, readability seemed to be all that mattered; nowadays, it’s all about bold, innovative fonts that really tell a story.
In this video, CareerFoundry UI design mentor Olga lifts the lid on why typography matters—and what difference it makes for your users.
So how do you go about choosing the right typography for your next design project? To get you feeling inspired, we’ve rounded up eight of our favorite typography trends—check them out below.
1. Serif fonts: The epitome of modern-day elegance
We tend to use sans-serifs to portray a sense of modernity and elegance, and we are starting to see logos and website copy using bold and high-contrast serifs. Although they look modern, there is something nostalgic about serifs. They want to tell a story about a product. In essence, design is all about telling a story to the user, and your chosen typography helps you to do this. Opting for a bold sans-serif font will ensure your message stands out loud and clear!
Sans serifs trends also are moving toward clean and very round forms. This is best exemplified through logos such as Airbnb, Spotify, and Google. Roundness entails simplicity and straightforwardness, which can help to build trust between the brand and the user. Of course, the overuse of rounded sans serifs can be risky since they can look a bit childish, so it’s important to use this font in the right context.
2. Rustic fonts: The magic of handwriting
For a while now, the use of handwritten script fonts has been on the rise, with thousands of highly customized typefaces readily available. While the popularity of hand-lettered scripts will likely never disappear completely, we’re beginning to see the same level of customization in non-script typefaces. This style of typography is especially popular in the design and branding used for breweries, farms, bakeries, coffee shops, boutique stores, and other traditional industries. The handwritten style provides a sense of authenticity and artistry that’s slowly making its way into the mainstream, but conveys a unique and personal feel nonetheless.
3. Minimalist typography: Readability at its best
Whether you want to use them for prints, logos, or for a website, minimalist fonts are very versatile and can be used in pretty much any kind of design. The minimal design trend is here to stay, which is why minimalist fonts are so popular among designers. With the overwhelming use of mobile devices, and the increasing emphasis that search engines are placing on website speed and usability, users are now looking for designs that are easy to use, without any over-the-top effects or graphics. Examples of minimalist fonts that are currently trending are Roboto, Museo Sans, Blogger Sans, Prime, and Gogoia. What makes these fonts minimalist is easy readability. Ironically, keeping certain text simple heightens its sense of importance, and pairing these minimalist fonts with an all-white or all-black background adds even more gravitas.
4. Pixel fonts: Stylish nostalgia from the 2D gaming era
When you hear the words “pixel font”, Super Mario Brothers or Pac-man might come to mind. Indeed, pixelated typography is both nostalgic and stylish. Pixel art evolved from the 2D computer graphics of the 70s through the 90s, and currently, pixel style fonts are making quite a comeback. While these fonts are fun and playful, they’re being used well beyond the realm of video games; we are starting to see Pixel fonts in bars and food trucks, too. Check out some examples from Pinterest. While pixelated typography isn’t appropriate for all brands and products, it’s ideal if you want to convey a quirky and playful tone.
5. 70s and 80s fonts: Retro typography inspired by the movies
With the release of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, which takes place in the 80s, the nostalgia for the late seventies and eighties typography was well and truly opened up. This retro trend goes further than the long hair and tight blue jeans that feel like they were pulled directly from Nightrider. We’re seeing a trend back from the heavily spaced out words of the past few years. Now there is a steady acceptance of the “tight kerning” that defined that decade’s style. A designer could even connect the words together without any kerning, using a Star Wars logo-like look—another movie from the 80s!
6. Kinetic (moving) fonts: The power of typography and animation combined
With the onset of 5G network speed, motion design is becoming more of a reality, and as a result, moving text or fonts will eventually become the norm. Kinetic typography is just a cool way of saying “moving type.” It’s a combination of old-fashioned typography with the power of video and animation in order to create really eye-catching, memorable designs. Unlike standard type or fonts, a designer working with kinetic type has to also take into account style, effects, and timing in addition to normal considerations like alignment, weight, and hierarchy. We’re seeing the rise of this type of font predominantly in the videogame industry, where designers are simultaneously burdened and blessed with the responsibility to use their imaginations by creating kinetic typography. The challenge with this style of typography lies in clearly conveying your message while entertaining the user at the same time.
7. Colorful fonts: Monochrome’s more daring cousin
Historically, fonts have traditionally been strictly monochrome (black or white, or just one tone) as they’ve been largely tied to the print process. But with more typography happening on-screen rather than on the printed page, designers are starting to open up to the possibilities of colorful fonts and their potential for creating exciting designs. The purpose of both UX and UI design is to make products and experiences more inclusive. Vibrant and non-traditional color schemes encourage designers to think outside the box while thinking about what voice and tone they’re portraying to their users. No longer are companies restricted to equating professionalism with simple layouts; these days, it’s much more common for a brand to want to evoke some kind of emotional response from the user. Adding a bit of blue may provide a sense of calm, or red a sense of urgency. If you’d like to learn more about the power of color, check out the ultimate color glossary for UI designers.
8. Contrast: High-impact typography for a lasting impression
Just the right amount of contrast can lead to a visually rewarding design. There are a few trending typographic options that will help designers make the most of this style. You can mix together two styles to get a pleasingly high-contrast look. For example: Large, massive, super-heavyweight bold fonts are a popular attention-grabber at the moment, and combining them with sophisticated, minimalist sans-serifs creates a beautifully balanced effect. The principle of contrast can be used in other areas of design, too, like color. The great thing about contrasting typography is that the options for pairing different styles are practically endless, leaving plenty of room to express your own individual style.
It’s a wrap!
Words are gaining more dominance in the field of product design. As a designer, it’s vital to understand what message you are trying to convey when choosing a typography style. As with any part of the design process, a thorough and instinctive understanding of your target audience is the best place to start, so think carefully about the context surrounding your users and your product when picking a font. If you’d like to learn more about user interface design, check out the following: