How much of an effect does the print font we use have on the reader? Does the ease or difficulty of reading text have an impact on our view of the information? How do we process information?
Recent experimental research shows that the print font we use can have a profound effect on our understanding of information. This happens because the print fonts influence how fluently we process the information, even though the font has no actually relationship with the information it is displaying. How much consideration do you give to the font that you use?
Take for example a recipe – how easy the steps are to read will have a significant effect on how easy we presume the recipe is to follow and meal is to prepare. This is above and beyond the link we place on complex recipes being difficult to prepare. A recommendation than would be for restaurants to display their menu in a harder to read font as customers will presume that they are more difficult to prepare, taking additional skill and effort. It might even prevent the hobby cook from trying the dish at home.
Another point is highlighted with regards to how quickly the reader will make a decision related to the information. The more difficult to read, the longer the reader will take to make a decision based on it and they may not make a decision at all. Novemsky and colleagues presented the same information about two cordless phones in easy to read or difficult to read formats. They observed that 17% of their participants deferred choice when it was easy to read whereas 41% did so when the font was difficult to read. Pretty clear results! So if you want your reader to act on what you are writing about, you need to ensure the print font is clear and easy to read.
The effect is also evident when the name of a product or offering is difficult to pronounce. For example, amusement park rides with difficult to pronounce names are perceived as being more adventurous than rides with easy to pronounce names – and are also perceived as more likely to make you sick! The fluency of the name having a effect on how we understand the product.
Taking this knowledge into the stock market the effect is repeated. Companies that had difficult to pronounce names were seen as more risky than company names that were easy to say. In fact Exchange, Alter and Oppenheimer found that companies with easy to pronounce ticker symbols actually performed better than those with difficult to pronounce ticker symbols.
Next time you need to present written information…how much care will you take to make it easy to read – and thus be seen as easy to implement and understand?
PS. If in doubt use Ariel print font…its known to be the easiest to read!