How quickly can you communicate? It may be surprising just how imperative it is for your audience to understand your message instantly.
Legibility is a staple of good design. Although you certainly want to capture someone’s attention for longer than a second, that’s about how long you have before the eye heads somewhere else. If you don’t secure your audience’s attention with quality, you will lose it completely. Legibility equals the speed of understanding. Trust me, you have a need for speed.
Design must be efficient. I just bolded that statement because it’s important. I just communicated the significance of that sentence with one fairly small styling adjustment. That’s all it takes. What it doesn’t take is an inner glow, a 3-color gradient, a drop shadow, a cute font, and two text outlines. There’s a time for word art and a time for communication. Extra effects may look flashy, but they’ll ultimately slow down your message.
Legibility is efficient. The reason you see Helvetica used all of the time is because it works. The letterforms of this typeface were crafted with much care and precision, so that maximum legibility is maintained over a wide variety of applications. It quickly and effortlessly communicates the message behind it. In fact, it maintains that classiness so well, that you don’t even know it’s there! That’s what good design should do —disappear in deference to the message.
Have you seen some truly legible or illegible pieces of design? We’d love to discuss them in the comments below.