An argument for using handwritten fonts in web design

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Handwritten fonts are often looked down upon in the world of sleek interfaces. But is it time to reassess these old biases?

7 min read

The letter A in different handwritten fonts by Vered Bloch

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With so much focus on readability, there’s a reason why websites are packed with sans serif fonts. But what if I told you to throw that idea out the window and try a handwritten font?

There’s so much “vanilla” typography out there; it’s time to try more handwritten and novelty display styles. Injecting some personality into your design projects can actually be in your favor, as long as you don’t go overboard.

While it isn’t the most conventional opinion, there’s a strong case to be made for using more handwritten typefaces. Let’s explore how to do it while creating better, more beautiful website experiences.

Handwritten fonts have more personality

Maybe the best argument for using handwritten fonts is that they can emphasize the unique character of your project or design.

Think of how a ragged font, for example, can take the formality out of words and provide a rough edge.

A long tail or beautiful swash can contribute to the graceful tone of wording.

The right script can feel like a personalized signature or action.

It’s much harder to form these distinct emotional ties with a geometrical sans serif. The individuality and sense of honesty that comes with a specialty or experimental typeface is almost incomparable.

In regards to personality, a handwritten typeface can do for a design what great wine does for a meal. It sets a mood, a tone, and a feel for everything that is to come with the presentation.

Shoelaces: Handwritten fonts in web design

Interesting typefaces are disruptive

Have you ever stopped to look at something just because it was different? That’s what handwritten fonts can do. It’s a disruptive visual element that helps draw attention to the design as a whole.

It stands out because so many websites use sans serif font palettes. It’s a font style that’s become so dominant, that you are almost shocked to see anything else. And that’s precisely what makes users stop to look and read.

The website visitor might first notice the typeface, but will soon after start to take in the surrounding content. A choice as simple (or complex) as typography creates a distinct first impression, fostering that initial engagement. Every second that you can keep a new visitor engaged increases the likelihood of a conversion.

Mama Mermaid: Handwritten fonts in web design

It’s much harder to form distinct emotional ties with a geometrical sans serif. The individuality and sense of honesty that comes with a specialty typeface is almost incomparable.

Handwritten fonts are a time-tested option

The use of handwritten styles in website design is often seen as a bit of a controversial topic. Nevertheless, graphic designers have been creating amazing pieces with this style of typography for hundreds of years.

Some of the first fonts were hand-drawn logos and letterforms.

More recently, handwritten styles remain popular in other graphic design areas, such as book and magazine publishing - perfect for drawing attention among a sea of competing titles - as well as poster and other print design.

If handwritten fonts can work for all of these other graphic design applications, what makes web design different?

This comes back to a simple rule that website designers created in the early days of the internet: Sans serif fonts are easier to read on screen. That may have been true back when screen resolutions weren’t the super-sharp and crisp visuals we have today. As technology keeps getting better, it’s time for the sans serif bias to make room for more diverse uses of type online.

Actually I Can: Handwritten fonts in web design

Choose from almost unlimited text options

While the argument here is primarily for using handwritten fonts, it also extends to almost any novelty or display typeface. Combined, these styles provide an almost unlimited smorgasbord of fonts to choose from: