Choose a Simple Font if You Want Readers to Listen and Obey

posted in: Design | 0

In another one for the “I knew that” files, research has shown that the fonts used to share content have a noticeable effect on the way that content is perceived by the recipients.

Design matters! How many times have you heard this basic tenet over the years? It’s true, of course, and the fact is apparent everywhere one looks, from living rooms to classrooms, boardrooms to sales showrooms. For marketers and content creators, design is a constant consideration.

Enhancing positive reception and increasing engagement with the content are natural consequences of careful design choices, whether they involve color, layout or font.  Now a study conducted by researchers at Leeds Beckett University and Manchester University provides solid research to support the obvious:  Font choices affect perception about the content and subsequent behavior.

Medical patients given instructions for a particular treatment protocol received the same information in one of four different font combinations. They were then asked to rate the complexity, risk, effort and appearance of the treatment protocol and instructions. Highlights of the study results included observations that marketers should note well:

  • ‘The easier the font was to read, the less complex the intervention was perceived.”
  • “The font of written information may also determine adherence to interventions.”

This truly is a fact that might lead one to say, “Duh,” but it is also an often overlooked and crucial fact that those who share content absolutely must keep in mind. If you want readers to grasp your message, heed your call to action, even bother to read what you’re sharing, you’ve got to present it in a clear, undemanding visual format that invites, rather than repels, the eye.

If it looks complicated, it is complicated. Many people simply won’t bother to read it, do it or figure out what you’re offering or requesting. Those who do will have the sensation that they’re working hard – measurably more so than they would have if you’d chosen a font that is less demanding. Why would you ever want to make your readers work harder than they have to?

There’s more evidence of the same thing in other studies, too. All of this research is supporting the concept of cognitive fluency, the operative principle at work here. Basically, cognitive fluency means readers take that extra effort they have to expend on decoding the demanding font and mentally apply it to what they read, causing their perception of the information or instructions contained to be skewed towards complexity.

The research may be complicated but the message for marketers should be exceptionally easy to grasp, as should the information you convey. Use clear, simple words in clear, simple fonts. Otherwise your readers will feel like it’s all too much to bear. Make them feel empowered, interested and competent – Keep it simple!

To read more about cognitive fluency, marketing and fonts, you might want to check out Roger Dooley’s article on the Neuromarketing website.

Follow Sarah:
Sarah Warlick is responsible for making us and all of our clients sound professional and eloquent as the content director at bbr marketing. In this role, Sarah is in charge of ensuring that all copy is well-written, accurate and free of pesky typos before it heads out the door. Additionally, she is a prolific writer and a frequent contributor to bbr marketing’s blog sites. She spends a good deal of time writing copy for our clients and has a unique way of crawling into our clients’ heads to create ghostwritten copy that sounds as if it came directly from their pen.
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