Throughout history, we have seen just how much of an impact the written word can have. Whether used to declare freedom, spread important news or create a world of their own, words matter to us all.
In more recent times, words have often taken a backseat–particularly online. With the advent of dazzling web technologies and the spread of broadband, websites often are overtaken with giant sliders, ads and the like. Even text-heavy sites can be hard to read in a distraction-free manner.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips to help your words stand out as a focal point of your website with the help of some excellent WordPress themes.
1. Remove Distractions
Keeping your layout clutter-free is the most organic way to ensure that the focus stays on your writing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t use a slider or images - but you should choose wisely. Too much movement can make it hard to focus on content. Integrating too many bold images can take attention away from your core message.
Preface is a theme aimed at authors. And, while it does include a slider for the home page and makes use of featured images for the blog, it does so in a subtle manner. Typography is both large and the focal point of the layout. Overall, it’s easy to navigate and read.
2. Use Bold, Spacious Headlines
The use of bold headlines, with ample space to breathe, can really make an impact with readers. While ideally the use of short and to-the-point headlines brings the heaviest punch, that’s not always a realistic option for all types of content. But regardless of whether you’re publishing breaking news or showcasing short stories, displaying each post with standout headlines and a solid chunk of real estate allow them all their moment in the sun.
Forte utilizes this philosophy quite well. Each headline on the home page’s grid layout is large, bold and given its own space via muted background images. This is a terrific blend of using typography and imagery together in a way that results in simplicity. It goes to show that, even with the use of large images, you can still make words stand out.
3. Consider Classic Layouts
While it’s tempting to go with more complex modern layouts, there is still a content-first appeal to more traditional setups. The standard one or two column layouts are easy to follow and created with the written word in mind. While they may not be as glamorous, blogs in particular still benefit from the old less-is-more approach.
Textual is a text-centric theme that adds a bit of brutalist design to the classic blog layout. The headlines are huge, the links stand out and the body text is easily read. Nothing fancy here–just the stuff that really matters.
4. Utilize a Contrasting Color Palette
It stands to reason that, if text is easier to read, it will help to keep the focus on your written content. Ensuring that your site’s text contrasts nicely with its background is a crucial step in both readability and accessibility. As an aside, my first job out of high school was at a local newspaper. Their motto was that bold, dark text on a light background is always user-friendly. That’s just as true today.
WordMag by default uses black text on both white and light gray backgrounds. It combines the this contrasting color scheme with some modern features such as CSS3 animations, parallax scrolling effects and a grid-based layout. Typography is one of the theme’s core focuses, with both Google Fonts and Adobe Typekit being supported.
5. Empower Users
There are, of course, any number of ways you may choose to style your site’s typography. But, if your focus is primarily on written content, there are things you can do to further empower users. Provide them with tools that they can use to better enjoy reading. If someone is more comfortable, they may just stay awhile!
ReadWrite is a minimal WordPress theme that offers tools to help users customize their reading experience. Both font sizes and color contrast can be changed by the user in the site’s header. Through CSS, you can further tweak these features to give visitors to your site the best possible UX.
The Foundation of Good Design
When you think about it, text really lays the foundation for web design. At the dawn of the World Wide Web, it even started out as the basis of all websites. With our desire to constantly add in the latest bells and whistles, we sometimes tend to push text aside as a minor concern. Thankfully, themes like the ones highlighted above have helped to bring text and typography back to the forefront–just where they belong.