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min read
May 30, 2024


Typography in Web Interfaces: How It Transforms User Experience

Tips on how typography plays a role with the right fonts and layout to make your SaaS stand out and don't miss the game-changing tip at the end
Adarsh Maradiya
May 30, 2024
min read
min read
May 30, 2024
Adarsh Maradiya
COO, Co-founder

In the world of SaaS, where your platform’s design can be a make-or-break factor for user engagement, typography emerges as a silent but mighty player in the user experience game. It’s far more than just choosing a font that looks good; it’s about choosing typefaces that enhance readability, convey the right emotions, and make navigating your platform a breeze for users. Good typography can subtly guide users where they need to go, help them understand your product better, and even evoke the feelings that keep them coming back. Typography guidelines serve as a set of principles that guide the effective use of typography in enhancing user experience and engagement in SaaS platforms.

Through the lens of big names in the industry, we’ll explore how smart typography choices, display fonts and different font sizes can significantly impact user experience, turning simple text into a powerful tool for engagement and satisfaction.

Choosing the Right Fonts

Choosing the right font style for your SaaS platform is important to ensure that your brand’s personality shines through while maintaining clear readability across various devices and screen sizes. Google Font style offers a wide selection of fonts that are not only diverse in style but also optimized for web readability, making it a valuable resource for SaaS designers seeking to balance brand expression with user accessibility. To effectively select a font from Google Fonts, it’s essential to consider your brand’s identity and the message you wish to convey. For example, sans-serif fonts like Roboto and Open Sans are recommended for their universal legibility and clean appearance, as per Google’s Material Design guidelines, while serif fonts are praised for their traditional, authoritative look, often used to create visual interest when paired with sans-serif fonts for body text on SaaS landing pages. These fonts provide a modern and minimalist look, enhancing the user experience by making text easy to read on any device, from smartphones to desktop computers. The choice of a default font, such as the sans-serif font Roboto, establishes a baseline for readability and brand identity, showcasing its modern and bold characteristics in comparison to traditional serif fonts.

A case study that exemplifies the effective use of typography in SaaS platforms is Dropbox. Dropbox uses a custom typeface that reflects its friendly and approachable brand while ensuring that text is legible across all user interfaces. The choice of a custom font allows Dropbox to stand out in a crowded market by reinforcing its brand identity through unique typography. This strategic use of fonts demonstrates how aligning typography with brand personality and user accessibility can significantly enhance the overall user experience on a SaaS platform.

Examples of Dropbox logotype at various sizes, showing adjustments in typography for clarity
Dropbox employs a custom typeface that enhances its friendly and approachable image, ensuring clear readability across its interfaces, which helps distinguish its brand in a competitive market.

By adopting a similar approach to typography, SaaS designers can create a more engaging and user-friendly platform that effectively communicates the brand’s values and enhances readability for users.

Creating a Hierarchy with Visual Elements to Direct User Focus

Creating a clear hierarchy in your SaaS platform’s typography is important to direct user focus to the most significant information first. By skillfully manipulating size, weight, and color, you can guide users’ eyes through the interface, making it easy for them to find what they need quickly. This approach not only enhances the user experience but also improves the overall usability of your platform. To implement an effective typographic hierarchy, start by deciding which elements of your interface are the most important for your users. These elements should be the most prominent, using larger font sizes, bolder weights, or distinctive colors. Secondary information can be presented in smaller sizes or lighter weights, ensuring it doesn’t compete with primary content but is still accessible when needed. Consistent use of these visual cues across your platform helps users learn how to navigate your content more efficiently.

Slack offers an excellent example of typography that effectively directs user focus. Their interface design clearly distinguishes between different types of content, such as messages, channels, and notifications, using variations in font size, weight, and color to create a hierarchy. This careful design choice allows users to quickly scan their workspace and prioritize their attention on what’s most urgent or relevant. Despite the high volume of information presented, Slack’s typographic hierarchy makes the platform intuitive to use, significantly enhancing the user experience.

Slack's webpage showing 'Product font' section with an example of Lato font used in a demo chat interface
Slack uses typography effectively in its interface by using different font sizes, weights, and colors to clearly separate and highlight messages, channels, and notifications, creating an easy-to-follow visual hierarchy.

By studying Slack’s approach and applying similar principles to your SaaS platform, you can create a more organized and user-friendly interface. This strategic use of typography not only helps users navigate your platform more effectively but also contributes to a more satisfying interaction with your product, ultimately improving user satisfaction and retention.

Ensuring Legibility to Provide Reading Comfort

Ensuring your text is effortlessly readable for every user is key in designing SaaS platforms. It’s more complex than just selecting an appealing font. Your platform must offer instant readability for all users. Optimal readability involves using high-contrast text against backgrounds and ensuring ample space between lines and letters, enhancing comfort and reducing strain during reading sessions. To optimize legibility on your SaaS platform, consider high-contrast color schemes for text visibility. Also, adjust line spacing (leading) and letter spacing (tracking) to improve text readability. The objective is to foster a visually relaxing space, letting users concentrate on content without distractions.

LinkedIn showcases an outstanding commitment to legibility. The platform employs a clear, high-contrast color scheme that enhances text visibility against various backgrounds, accompanied by well-spaced typography. Such deliberate design choices not only facilitate information accessibility but underscore LinkedIn’s dedication to user comfort and inclusivity. Through LinkedIn’s design strategies, we observe the impact of prioritizing legibility on user experience — simplifying user interaction and information retention.

Display of LinkedIn's primary type family, Source Sans and Source Serif, in various weights and italics
LinkedIn demonstrates a strong commitment to readability by using a high-contrast color scheme and well-spaced typography to ensure text stands out against different backgrounds. These design choices enhance user comfort and accessibility, simplifying interaction and improving information retention.

Adopting LinkedIn’s focus on legibility for your SaaS product can significantly boost the user interface’s clarity and inclusivity. Prioritizing readability enhances the experience for users with visual challenges and elevates the platform’s usability for a broader audience, emphasizing your commitment to accessible and user-friendly design.

Adaptive Font Styles Across Devices

Ensuring your typography adapts to different devices is significant in today’s world where users switch from desktops to smartphones and tablets. The key to success here is creating a typography system that’s as flexible and responsive as the devices it’s viewed on. This means employing techniques like using relative units such as ‘em’ or ‘rem’ for font sizes, which allow text to scale based on the user’s screen size or browser settings. Additionally, leveraging CSS media queries enables you to adjust typographic details — like line height, letter spacing, and font size — based on the device’s screen dimensions. This responsive approach ensures that your text is not just legible across all platforms but also contributes to a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing user interface, regardless of how or where it’s accessed.

Instagram stands out as a prime example of a platform that excels in adaptive typography. It seamlessly adjusts its typographic design to ensure that whether a user is scrolling on a desktop or swiping through a smartphone, the text remains accessible, legible, and visually appealing. This level of responsiveness is critical for maintaining a consistent and satisfying user experience across devices. Instagram’s typography adjustments reflect a deep understanding of how users interact with their content in different contexts, ensuring that every word is as engaging on a small screen as it is on a larger one.

Hand holding a smartphone displaying a grid of diverse photos above a laptop keyboard
Instagram excels in adaptive typography, adjusting its design to ensure text remains accessible, legible, and visually appealing across devices, from desktops to smartphones.

For SaaS products looking to achieve a similar level of adaptability in their typography, following Instagram’s lead means prioritizing flexibility in your typographic design. Implementing responsive typography practices ensures that your platform’s text is an integral part of a seamless user experience, regardless of the device. This attention to detail not only improves the overall design aesthetic but also reinforces the usability and accessibility of your product, making it more inviting and engaging to a broader audience.

Engaging Users with Interactive Typography

Interactive typography involves elements that respond to user actions, such as hover states, clicks, or scrolls, bringing the text to life and encouraging users to interact more deeply with the content. This approach not only captivates users but also makes the exploration of your platform more engaging and enjoyable. To integrate interactive typography into your SaaS product, start by identifying key areas where such interactions could enhance the user experience. This could be within tutorials, where interactive text helps to illustrate points more vividly, or in dashboards and data visualizations, where typography can change dynamically to highlight important information based on user interaction. Implementing these elements requires thoughtful design and development, ensuring that the interactions are intuitive and add real value to the user journey.

Consider using CSS animations and JavaScript to create these interactive effects. For example, text could change color or size when hovered over, or clicking on a word could trigger an animation that elaborates on a concept. The key is to ensure that these interactions are seamless and enhance the content’s clarity rather than distract from it.

For instance, The New York Times has masterfully utilized interactive typography in their digital feature stories. Through user interactions, text elements can animate or reveal additional content, turning the act of reading into an immersive experience. This method has proven effective in drawing readers into the narrative, encouraging them to engage more thoroughly with the story and the data it presents.

Screenshot of The New York Times homepage featuring multiple news articles and images showing interactive typography
The New York Times enhances its digital stories by using interactive typography that animates and reveals more content as users interact, making reading an immersive experience that draws readers deeper into the narrative.

Emulating The New York Times’ success, SaaS platforms can leverage interactive typography to make educational content, user guides, or even complex data visualizations more engaging. By transforming static text into an interactive journey, you encourage users to dive deeper into your content, enhancing both their understanding and their engagement with your product.

Accessibility: Ensuring Typography Welcomes Everyone

Making your SaaS platform accessible to everyone is not just about following best practices; it’s about adopting inclusivity at the core of your design. Typography is critical in this, as the right choices can significantly improve readability and user experience for individuals with disabilities. Accessible typography involves careful consideration of font choices, sizes, and spacing to ensure that all users can easily read and understand your content. To incorporate accessible typography into your SaaS product, start by evaluating your current font choices and text layout. Opt for clear, easy-to-read sans-serif fonts and ensure that your text is large enough to be easily readable on various devices and screens. Also, consider the spacing between letters and lines; adequate spacing can significantly improve the readability of your text. Additionally, offer options for users to adjust the text size and contrast settings according to their preferences, further enhancing accessibility.

Microsoft stands out in this arena with its inclusive design toolkit, which serves as a guideline for creating more accessible digital environments. The toolkit recommends the use of sans-serif fonts, which are generally easier to read, particularly for users with dyslexia. It also emphasizes the importance of larger font sizes and proper letter spacing to enhance readability for users with visual impairments. By adopting these practices, Microsoft has made its products more accessible to a broader audience, showcasing how thoughtful design choices can open up your platform to users of all abilities.

Graphic showing inclusive design principles: Recognize exclusion, Learn from diversity, Solve for one, extend to many
Microsoft’s inclusive design toolkit guides the creation of accessible digital spaces by recommending easy-to-read sans-serif fonts, larger font sizes, and proper letter spacing to help users with dyslexia and visual impairments.

By following Microsoft’s example and integrating these accessibility principles into your design, you’re not just making your platform easier to use; you’re affirming a commitment to inclusivity. This approach broadens your user base and improves the overall user experience, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can benefit from your SaaS product. In doing so, you demonstrate that your platform is built with all users in mind, making it a welcoming space for everyone to explore and utilize.

Localized Typography: Speaking the User’s Language

When expanding your SaaS platform globally, understanding and respecting the linguistic and cultural nuances of your diverse user base is crucial. This is where localized typography comes into play. It’s not just about translating your content into different languages but tailoring the typography to align with local preferences and scripts. Such an approach ensures that your platform communicates effectively across linguistic boundaries and feels welcoming and familiar to users worldwide. To apply localized typography in your SaaS product, begin by researching the languages and cultures of your target markets. Identify fonts that not only support the required character sets but also carry the right cultural connotations and aesthetic appeal. It’s essential to work with native speakers and cultural consultants to understand the subtleties of typeface perception in different regions. Additionally, ensure that your platform’s design system can accommodate the varying typographic requirements of different languages, from text direction to character spacing.

Netflix showcases the importance of localized typography brilliantly. As a global streaming giant, it caters to a vast international audience, each with its distinct language and cultural context. Netflix customizes its typography for different regions, selecting fonts that are not only compatible with a variety of scripts — from Latin to Cyrillic to ideograms — but also resonate with local aesthetic preferences. This meticulous attention to typographic detail is a key factor in Netflix’s ability to create a seamless and personalized user experience, making viewers feel right at home, regardless of where they are in the world.

Netflix Japan homepage showcasing localized content and a pink promotional van
Netflix expertly localizes its typography for a global audience by choosing fonts that work with various scripts — from Latin to Cyrillic to ideograms — and match local tastes, showcasing its commitment to cultural relevance.

Adopting localized typography, as Netflix has, can significantly enhance the global appeal of your platform. It demonstrates a deep respect for cultural diversity and a commitment to providing an inclusive and personalized user experience. By making thoughtful typographic choices, you can ensure that your SaaS product not only speaks your users’ languages but also resonates with their cultural identities, fostering a stronger connection and loyalty to your brand worldwide.

Thank you for having read this far. As promised, here’s a small surprise for you — your bonus tip!

Bonus Tip: Typography as a Reflection of Brand Identity

While typography plays a pivotal role in usability and user experience, it’s also a powerful tool for conveying your brand’s personality and values. The right typographic choices, including experimenting with different font styles and elements, can evoke emotions, convey messages, and create a memorable brand identity that stands out in a crowded digital landscape. Typography, as a key element of design, incorporates various font styles to contribute significantly to brand identity, with serif typefaces offering a traditional feel and sans serifs preferred for their clarity on digital screens.

Airbnb provides an exemplary case study of using typography to reflect brand identity. In 2018, Airbnb introduced “Cereal,” a custom typeface designed specifically for its brand. Cereal was crafted to embody Airbnb’s values of belonging and sharing, offering a balance between personality and practicality, and effectively utilizing sans serifs for digital legibility and serif typefaces for traditional authority. This typeface is used across all touchpoints — website, mobile app, and promotional materials — ensuring consistency and coherence in Airbnb’s brand presentation. The introduction of Cereal showcases how typography can be more than just a vehicle for information; it can be an integral part of a brand’s story. Airbnb’s choice to develop a custom typeface demonstrates their commitment to creating a unique and cohesive brand experience that resonates with users on a deeper level, highlighting the key components of typography and color as fundamental parts of their design process.

Display of Airbnb Cereal typeface in various weights from light to black on Airbnb's design page
In 2018, Airbnb introduced “Cereal,” a custom typeface that reflects its values of belonging and sharing, used across its website, app, and promotional materials to ensure a consistent and effective brand presentation.

To apply this approach to your SaaS product, consider how your font choices can reflect and reinforce your brand identity. Whether you opt for a custom typeface like Airbnb or carefully select existing fonts that align with your brand’s values, your typography should be a deliberate reflection of who you are as a brand. This goes beyond aesthetics, contributing to a stronger brand presence and a deeper connection with your users. By viewing typography as an extension of your brand identity, as demonstrated by Airbnb with Cereal, you can leverage it to create a distinctive and cohesive user experience that captures your brand’s essence and values. Emphasizing UI design as a crucial aspect of reflecting brand identity through typography, Airbnb’s use of Cereal exemplifies how integrating visual elements and web fonts ensures a consistent brand identity across different platforms.

Wrapping Up:

It’s clear that typography in SaaS design isn’t just about making things look pretty; it’s a key element that affects how users interact with your platform. From choosing the right font styles that speak your brand’s language to ensuring your text is legible and accessible to everyone, every typographic decision plays a part in shaping the user experience. Remember, the goal is to create a seamless journey for your users, where every word, every letter, feels like it’s guiding them gently through your platform. By learning from the pros, you can see how thoughtful typography and related fonts enhances usability, engagement, and overall satisfaction. So, take these insights, experiment with your typography, and watch as your SaaS platform becomes more intuitive, inclusive, and engaging for all your users. And who knows? With the right typographic touch, your platform could be the next big thing that users didn’t know they needed until they experienced it.

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Written by

Adarsh Maradiya

I'm a Product designer turned entrepreneur. I am leading operations at Drool where we manage design operations and management for Tech startups.

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