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How to Test Your Type for Legibility

It does not matter if your business’ online presence consists of a simple website or an elaborate network of blogs, social media sites and customer outreach efforts- how you look on the web matters. Whether your business is primarily offline or exclusively online, your website is likely the first thing potential customers will see.

For better or worse, that all-important first impression will depend in large measure on how your website looks and behaves. If the page is slow to load and the text sloppy and ill-arranged, you cannot expect that first impression to be a good one.

The same is doubly true for the typefaces you choose for your website, blog and social media sites. That fancy font may look great on your developer’s desktop, but if it is not easily legible on a smartphone or tablet, you could end up chasing most of your customers away.

The Growing Impact of Mobile Devices

Keep in mind that a growing number of website requests now come from mobile devices, and that percentage is only expected to grow in the future. Already more than half of website access takes place on tablets and smartphones, and if you are not continually testing the legibility of your type, you are doing yourself, and your business, a great disservice.

In the end, the only real way to make sure your type is legible on customer devices is to test it well. No matter how much time your web developer has put into the development of your website, or how much effort was spent choosing the perfect fonts, the job is not done until the site is seen on as many target devices as possible.

Bigger is Better

The term bigger is better is often thrown around, but when it comes to digital displays like those on smartphones and tablets, the phrase is literally true. One of the biggest mistakes web developers make is setting their typefaces too small, and that too-small type can be a real impediment to legibility.

Some developers think that since resizing is so easy on mobile devices, they do not have to worry about the type size being too small. While it is true that smartphone and tablet users can resize their screens with the flick of a risk, that does not mean you can afford to ignore legibility.

Finding the Sweet Spot

It can take some time to find the sweet spot of readability and legibility, but the effort you put into the process will be well rewarded. Having your core users, employees and beta testers look at various type sizes and give their feedback is a good place to start, and a great way to gauge the legibility of various configurations.

Keep in mind that the users of mobile devices run the gamut in terms of visual acuity and the ability to read screens in sub-optimal light. Having your website content evaluated by as many different kinds of users as possible will be critical, but you should always err on the side of type that is too large versus too small. You do not have to make your type huge, but setting it to a larger font can be a very smart idea.

You can also use analytical tools to see how users are perceiving your site, and how the legibility of your text could be impacting their experience. Creating a great user experience is always an important consideration, and the right analytic tools can help you tweak the interface while enhancing the legibility of your site and the typeface you are using.

Do the majority of visitors to your site leave before going past the first page or venturing below the fold? They may be having trouble reading your type or navigating your links. Do visitors routinely expand the size of your page? If so, they are telling you the typeface you are using is too small to read comfortably. The more you know about user behavior, the easier it will be to improve the user experience, including the legibility of your type.

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