8 Secrets Behind Effective Sign Design People Don’t Know

by Tanya January 31, 2023

Signage is any kind of graphic display intended to convey information to an audience.

Typically, signage tends to serve a few common purposes: to promote, identify, provide information, give directions, or to raise safety awareness.

Sign design lies at the intersection of architectural, environmental, graphic, and icon design. The perfect sign designer has to make signage clearly stand out from its environment while complementing the environment around it.

This is a difficult task not every designer can do.

Examples of signage in everyday life

Signage can be found all around us.

Road signs, Health and Safety signs in the workplace, shop signs like opening hours, discounts etc.

Whatever your business, effective sign design can be one of the most crucial factors for generating awareness, communicating your brand identity, and converting purchases from new potential customers.

What are the secrets of effective sign design 

1. Signage should stand out from its environment

First and foremost, your signage should be highly visible to potential customers. Depending on the location of your business or advert, you’ll need to tailor its design to be as visible as possible, both from afar and up close in the context of the immediate surroundings.

Try to make use of vibrant colours and eye-catching shapes in your business signage to attract attention from potential customers, especially if your store is located in an area with plenty of competitors nearby.

2. Images and symbols should be widely understood

Use imagery and symbols that are relevant to the viewer. These should make sense based on the tasks viewers will be looking to complete when they see your screens.

3. Use large sans-serif fonts

Use sans-serif fonts and large font sizes so that viewers can read your message at-a-glance.

Don’t use too many fonts in a single piece of content, and don’t go overboard with colored text.

Avoid writing in all caps.

4. High contrast between foreground and background colours

Black and white is the best example of high contracts colours/opposites, but there are more.

If you go with colours other than black and white, even increasing the contrast by 10% can make the content easier to read, and recognisable to a much larger audience.

5. Pick the ideal installation spot

Even the best-designed signage will still lose its message if the installation location is not carefully considered.

Consider the viewpoint from different angles and the lighting.

For example, do you need additional lighting to help with visibility? You may also need to think about how sunlight reflects on your signage and if that causes any readability issues.

6. One message at a time 

If in doubt, use one message for one signage

Cramming too much text and details into the design can actually repel customers and work to your disadvantage.

Think about the primary purpose of your sign, and only include the necessary details for the best results. 

7. Show, don’t tell

People naturally process images more quickly than text, so if you can, tell your message with an image/graphic rather than reams of words.  

8. White space gives balance and harmony

In the context of design, ‘white space’ refers to the distance (or ‘negative space’) that exists between elements on a webpage, poster, or sign.

Effective sign design is all about focus and minimalism.

Try to incorporate plenty of white space in your design and go for a clean and de-cluttered aesthetic – white space is said to promote harmony, happiness, and balance in consumers.

You can also use white space to direct the attention of consumers and establish a visual narrative.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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