Avoiding Bad Sign Syndrome

Design mistakes can hurt the effectiveness of even the coolest application. Spectacular applications may totally fail if they are poorly designed. The reason is usually because there is too much to read, or because the casual passerby can’t figure out what the ad is actually promoting. Here are some tips to avoid bad sign syndrome:

  • Create a Sign that Achieves its Purpose - It’s largely up to the sign maker to create a sign that achieves its purpose. The client doesn’t necessarily know what makes for good signage, and so the single most important thing you can ask a potential client is: How will this sign be used, and what is the goal?
  • Design for Readability and Graphic Appeal - The elements of design will vary somewhat, of course. A building wrap shouldn’t be designed the same way as a tradeshow graphic, or an LED display, or a routed dimensional sign. Design for the medium.
  • Avoid Crowded Text - It is too crowded if the text is too small to be easily read from the expected viewing distance.
  • Easy on the Fonts - The overuse of creative fonts and/or too many font types in the same sign can ruin its effectiveness. Avoid using crazy fonts just because you can.
  • Use Contrast - Good contrast can make any sign stand out. Any message will pop if it has proper contrast; but avoid clashing color combinations between text and background.
  • Keep Backgrounds Simple - Backgrounds or graphics that are too busy can easily distract from the text message. Remember, the message is the thing. In the world of effective visual communication, less is generally more.