To serif or not to serif, that is the question (Chapter 5)

Posted on July 8, 2011


provided great insight on designing an effective website for your company/organization.  I was very interested in the discussion about serif fonts.  Aside from recognizing the name from my font list in Microsoft Office, I had no idea what it meant to be serif or sans serif.  Safko’s explanation makes perfect sense and I started noticing the use of sans serif fonts on many webpages.  Then I revisited my own blog and realized that I am using a serif font.  I don’t remember choosing my font, so Wordpress must have defaulted to the one I am using.  Their use of serif fonts peaked my interest and I decided to see if Safko’s recommendation was the industry standard.

According to an article by David Rodriguez on Web Page Design for Designers, many recommend using serif fonts sparingly.  He suggests, though, that serif fonts can be beautiful and work well online if done correctly.  “Thanks to the vast majority of web sites using sans-serif fonts, using a serif font can lend your page a refreshing, personal, warmer, and more visually attractive appeal.  Any or all of these effects can be accomplished with the right styling. (Rodriguez,”  Rodriguez does caution that you need to use care when choosing a serif font.  For instance, in order for serif fonts to look good, the ClearType preference must be turned on.  He also recommends that serif fonts are only used with medium or large fonts.  His article provided links to a few really attractive webpages that are using serif fonts.

There is much more to a website, though, than the font.  Having a webpage that understands the sales funnel and can directly address a customer’s need is key.  Flash seems to be a little too flashy for its own good.  I’ve gone to many websites that have an elaborate flash animation on their home page.  I can’t recall the last time that I actually watched the entire animation.  Instead, I search for the Skip Intro button and click away.  I don’t have time for cute gimmicks, and I’m guessing that many others feel the same way.  Plus, if search engines can’t read Flash code, it seems like a giant waste of time.

Designing a webpage seems doable, but search engine optimization is definitely above my head.  Luckily, I’ve heard that you can hire people to help you put keywords into you website and on the right pages.  We aren’t all like Vint Cerf.  He is perfectly at home talking about TCP/IP protocol and common carriage, but I would much rather hire an expert.  As Safko wrote, it is important to be able to measure the effectiveness of your webpage.  What is working and what isn’t working?  In order to have the best website you can have, you need to do a little trial and error.  In the end, though, it should be all worth it because an effective website can bring in serious business.