Chances are you’re guilty of it or you know someone who is. It’s tempting, of course, to play around with those colorful little creations available right on the keyboards of our smartphones and tablets. And you should, mostly because they’re fun and allow for a wider range of expression than boring old words or even photos.
But emojis have also made for a heck of a challenge for web designers. If you’ve been on Twitter on your desktop or laptop, you can tell when someone you follow uses an Emoji in a tweet -- it always shows up as a misplaced, ugly, empty box. Emojis are becoming hugely popular, and not just in tweets, but also in blog posts and other traditional web content. That’s prompting the main players on the web to start experimenting with multicolored (and even animated) fonts.
Mozilla, Abode, Microsoft and Google have all begun researching the possibility of more engaging typography as 2014 progresses, CNET reports. It makes sense; the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the web design industry is slated to grow 22% between 2010 and 2020, meaning more innovation is already on its way. So, what other kinds of typography breakthroughs can we expect in the near-future?
Open, Highly Legible Fonts
Sure, this one seems a bit obvious. Haven’t designers always been interested in ensuring their readers could actually read their content? Of course, but with each passing year, websites are clearing out their clutter and opting for the most simple designs they can manage. With that kind of return-to-basics mentality, typography (specifically, a good font) has to do most of the work to draw in a reader’s eye. Open fonts like Nocturno and Quadon, which bridge the gap between retro stylishness and modern simplicity, are leading the charge.
Handwritten and Script Fonts
For proof of this emerging trend, just look at Instagram. The app’s logo might be an old school camera, but its title font is about as warm and contemporary as it gets -- just like its photo filters. That’s because it’s become quite fashionable to feature handwritten and script fonts prominently for either a dash of high-societal class or simply a personal touch. Trend Hand Made and Voyage, two up-and-coming shakers in the font game, are some of the best examples. Remember, though, that these are best for titles or other places of emphasis, not entire passages of text.
This one’s been talked about at length since the launch of Windows 8 and Apple’s iOS 7, but it’s important because of the legion of imitators it’s already spawning. Gone are the days of shadows and gradients to make icons look denser. Instead, we’re facing a renaissance of flat, basic, but still bold designs that can make a site (or an operating system) look at once both user-friendly and completely modern. That’s true for typography, too. Internet businesses rely entirely on the appearance of their websites to land more business, which means they have to choose the right styles and designs in order to hold a customer’s interest. Bottom line: Don’t get carried away with fanciful options. Keep it simple instead.
While it’s important to keep all these typography tips in mind, it’s also important to realize how you can use them practically on your website. No matter if you’re a small business owner, a retailer or even a contemporary culture blogger, you should consider a fixed header on each web page. Think about it: Web users like to have things presented directly to them, especially when it comes to navigating an unfamiliar site. Utilizing sleek, sharp typography on a fixed header allows your name to stay with the user throughout his or her entire session scrolling down the page.
From handwritten fonts to emoji, 2014 is already looking to be a promising year for web design and typography. So, what’s your site’s contribution going to be?