Choosing a new direction for your font or typography in 2021 is a daunting task, but it can be fun and enjoyable too.
A virtually unlimited number of font and new designs are available, and some older designs are becoming popular again for 2021. Although there’s no denying the number of bad fonts out there that you should steer clear of.
Start thinking in the direction of the familiar and nostalgic, and you’ll be on the right track.
What Are Typography Trends?
Changes in typography, or the design of fonts, happen gradually over time, much like the style preferences for clothing. It often happens that typography may change in a cyclic manner, with the popular fonts from several years ago making a resurgence today.
Current events can influence typography because people have emotional connections to the way letters are designed, and these emotions change as times change.
How Geometric Design Is Changing Typography
2020 was a turbulent year for many people. Style preferences are changing to support people’s need for comforting feelings. In UI design, many websites and app designers are embracing geometry, as a way to add a sense of structure to their experiences.
Typography is matching this geometric design ethos by following similar rules of emotional response. In 2021, we are seeing many fonts skew towards the retrograde end of the spectrum.
Especially in designs that are edgier, contain brighter colors, or contain less strict geometric patterns and symmetry, the older style typefaces can bring a calming, retrospective balancing effect.
Balancing Theme Elements With Typography
Maintaining your brand’s essence may necessitate bold colors, asymmetrical layouts, and flowing, expressive shapes. In that case, many users will find your design too harsh.
There are growing preferences for muted colors, soft 3D effects, and reduced complexity in the shapes present in your design.
Serif or Sans Serif
If your design already contains muted colors or geometric shapes, you might be able to mix with more exciting fonts, and still have an attractive design for users in 2021. Traditional serif fonts aren’t necessary for every scenario, or in every paragraph and section.
In many cases, designers use serif fonts for headings and stick with sans serif fonts for body sections.
Sans serif fonts can still be your mainstay in 2021. However, you should keep in mind that users are interested in sure, steady designs, and perhaps concepts that bring nostalgia.
If you want to stick with sans-serif, lean towards symmetrical fonts, pleasing to the eye, and stay away from extreme, flashy fonts that portray bold, brash, and in-your-face style.
Is Color Bad?
With all of this talk of serif fonts, nostalgia, and traditional designs taking the lead in 2021, you might think that people are color and boldness averse. It’s simply not the case. Design in 2021 will just need to be careful to maintain more balance.
If bold, bright colors are your thing, include some geometry, symmetry, paper-like elements, or serif typography to balance your design.
A small amount of nostalgic or traditional themes mixed into a cutting edge design can do a lot to make users feel a sense of familiarity and comfort with your brand.
Just because 2020 was a rough year doesn’t mean that people need to be ultra pampered.
Consider adding small amounts of traditional themed elements, allowing you to be bolder in other areas.
Custom Made Typography
No interest in traditional fonts? Or does your design team have a little more flexibility in their 2021 goals? Try refreshing your website with a custom made typography. You can use a tool like Vectornator to create custom fonts without too much of a learning curve involved.
Many companies are creating distinctive fonts and highly individualized designs to help bring refreshed style to their brands.
As mentioned before, website design is often highly cyclical. What’s in style now in 2020 looks a lot like 2015 for some industries.
For example, MailChimp is harkening back to their old design schemes for 2021. They’re doubling down on hand-drawn designs, typewriter-like typography, and backgrounds that are made to look like dulled paper.
The effect of this subtle skeuomorphism is to bring comfort and familiarity to designs and make companies seem more approachable, kind, and stalwart. In such cases, the typography is fully customized, containing elements of both new and old.
Serifs are used extensively, and even some characters look as if hand-drawn by a calligrapher.
In another case, LinkedIn uses squared-off serif fonts for their headers, ultimately straddling the line between modern and traditional, and they use ultra-light hyper-modern body fonts, similar to Helvetica Neue Ultralight, which was made popular by Apple in 2018.
Custom fonts often play on subtle aspects, like LinkedIn’s quote text. The main characters strongly resemble the ultralight modern typeface used in their body text.
LinkedIn’s typographic designers made custom-designed punctuation. Their apostrophes, commas, and quote characters are made to look as if they were crafted on a high-end typewriter or printing press.
Ultralight Fonts: Do or Don’t?
A couple of years old now, the ultralight font craze seems to be dying down, but companies are coming up with their own twists to keep them interesting. Don’t just use a common ultralight font and think you’re being edgy or innovative.
The design is wearing on many by this point. However, by adding touches like LinkedIn’s manually crafted punctuation marks, you can create an air of tradition and retrospective design for otherwise unoriginal designs.
What is an ultralight font?
Helvetica Neue Ultralight, Roboto Ultralight, Seguei UI Ultralight, and Raleway Ultralight are all examples of fonts that have hit the mainstream in the last couple of years and become overused.
They’re all from the sans-serif category and have minor differences, but in similarity, they all have very light stroke width. It was cool in 2018, but now, it’s boring. Time to move on or incorporate more creativity into your design.
What Is The Safest Font?
2020’s safest font, and still the same in 2021- is Arial. Arial is Google Docs’ default font, and it’s safe to use anywhere on the web that you want to be formal or informal.
It’s easily recognizable, a fast-reading font, and looks great in all sizes, from tiny to huge. It works well on print media, screens, and is a component font in a huge number of websites.
If you want to convey a difficult to understand or receive a message, Arial might be your best bet. It’s not distracting in any way and can be used for formal subjects or informal.
Anti-Design and Classical Typography
A resurgence is happening in 2020 and 2021 with the popularity of typewriter-like fonts, including Courier New. In the early 2000s, Times New Roman was effectively mandatory for more formal writing or news sites, but now, Courier New seems poised to take the position for formal design.
As one of the most conservative, retro fonts, Courier New brings back air of nostalgia for users, especially those who remember being required to write their school book reports in Courier New, double spaced.
These traditional typographic styles certainly bring a feeling of nostalgia, but they can still be paired with creative aspects, to bring experimental flair to your design.
Childlike expression, changing the punctuation, or adding specific unique elements to select characters can help your brand stand out, while still getting the most from traditional typographic styles.
Why Does Typography Change?
Typography changes over time because of its core purpose in your media. It communicates ideas, engaging your audience with personal stories, a sense of authority, useful information, or emotionally compelling concepts.
Maintaining neutrality is always a good bet to minimize skewing the reception of your content. But, there is such a thing as too neutral.
Minimalism has dominated print and digital design in 2020 and 2021. Many of the minimalist typefaces have been based on sans-serif fonts like Arial, but have reduced the weight and beautified the fonts for viewing.
It’s most common to optimize on small, high DPI (dot per inch), high-resolution screens. Although these fonts look great on new smartphones, the reading experience decreases for the average user.
Typography must both serve the utility of effortlessly conveying the information, maintaining neutrality, and to be appealing or pleasing to the eye.
As styles change, and the average person becomes accustomed to “new” looks, they lose their novel appeal, and designers must come up with something new to attract users.
Balancing the new and attractive with the utilitarian is a tough job, and this is why fonts are continuously being designed, re-worked, and reimagined.
For your media in 2021, you don’t need to re-do all of your fonts. Just change a header or two here or there, and try to maintain a balance. Strive to avoid using the same font everyone else is using. Try something new. Just don’t overdo it.