Why Fonts Matter in Product Design
Physically, we use our voice, facial expressions. gestures and posture to convey a wide range of emotional cues from the subtle to the dramatic. Fonts and the way they are used provide a similarly extensive emotional range typographically.
In 1933 Poffenberger and Barrows explored how shapes and simple as lines could communicate emotions. Their theory was that when we look at a line our eyes move along the shape. This turns it into a physical experience that reminds us of the body language we use to express our emotions. They asked participants to match emotions form a line to each of the 18 curved and jagged lines sloping in different directions. A line going downwards was shown to make us feel “doleful,” while a “joyous” like takes our eyes upwards.
Each of our emotions contains a whole range of feelings and these nuances can also be conveyed typographically.
There is a parallel between what we experience in the physical world and how this influences our interpretation of font shapes and styles. Font can be seen as mirroring the emotions we display in the real world through our facial expressions and gestures. When we are happy our faces become round with a wide smile and our body language is open. By contrast, an angry frown expression is pinched and angel and an attacking animal is all jagged teeth and claws.
Font also mirrors the way your handwriting communicates your mood or emotions. When writing quickly your mood is italicised and when angry it becomes bold and deliberate.
Take a look at the experiences and associations a font type evokes. Fonts have different personalities that can create trust or mistrust, give you confidence, make things seem easier to do or make a product taste better.You may not believe it, but fonts can change the meanings of words right before your very eyes, alter the taste of your food, evoke emotional responses and reveal their users’ personalities.