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Tips for Designing Effective and Eye-Catching Directional Signs

Signage has been part of humanity's history for hundreds of millennia. In fact, graphic signs existed even before written language developed!

Of course, sign design has greatly evolved over the years to include words, diagrams, and even light-up images.

Directional signs for businesses can be snappy and eye-catching... assuming you create a top-notch design. Read on to learn how to create custom signage that really pops.

Be Readable

Directional signs should rely more on diagrams than text. Images can show business layouts and floor plans in a way that written words can't illustrate. Besides, since people process images 60,000 times faster than text, they'll have an easier time navigating your business quickly.

When you do need to use text, make sure that it's in a large and bold font. It needs to be visible and quick to process. Don't clash with your background color, either - blue text on a red sign leads to nothing but a headache.

Use Arrows the Right Way

Arrows are one of the most useful and effective parts of a directional sign. They're universally recognizable. They show people what directions they need to walk in to get to a certain place. You can use them to show where to walk on diagrams.

You can also just have signs with a single arrow pointing people in the direction of an event or commonly used business space.

Just make sure that you use arrows the right way. If they're ambiguous or misleading, people are going to get lost trying to follow what they think should be a simple symbol.

For example, if you have a restroom on the upper floor, you shouldn't just put an arrow pointing upward. People will think that it's straight ahead and just go forward rather than switching floors. In this case, you need to have bold text that says "UPPER LEVEL" or an image that shows a person going upstairs.

Diagonal and curved arrows are especially useful as well. They show people the precise direction they need to walk in to get somewhere. People will be able to create a simple map in their heads so that they know the next steps of their journey.

Use Familiar Symbols on Directional Signs

Arrows aren't the only universally-recognizable symbol you'll need on directional signs. You'll also need to show people where things are with common, widely-known graphics. For example, a symbol of stairs can show people where they'll need to go if they need to move up to the next floor.

Other symbols can also help to show people where they should go if they need access to certain building features. A free WiFi symbol shows both employees and visitors where they can go if they need to access the web. A smoking symbol in an otherwise no-smoking building demonstrates where designated smoking areas are.

These symbols are so widely known that they can completely eliminate the need for text. This makes your signage easier to process and interpret.

Light Things Up

Whether you're a small business or a big corporation, it's important to stand out. There's no better way to do this than with light-up directional signs.

If you have a detailed directory, you can attract people to it with a backlight. The clear plastic that your directory is printed on will light up with the image on top of it. This will make it easy to read since symbols will stand out on an illuminated background.

You also can have simpler signs made from neon lights. Arrows leading to a storefront or display work wonders. The universal symbol for stairs can light up so people know where to watch their step.

This is a great way to make your business memorable to visitors. Not every venue offers brightly-colored lights in vibrant hues.

Brand, Brand, and Brand Some More

Branding is an important way to make your business memorable. Using branded information on your sign can make you stand out in people's minds. Make sure that your logo and colors match those of your business. You can put them in the corners of your directories or use them as headers and footers on other signs.

You also should use the same font as you use on your website or in other areas of your store. This is a great way to use sign installations to give your business a cohesive look.

Consider ADA Guidelines

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an inclusive measure designed to make public places more accessible for people with disabilities. They have a comprehensive list of requirements that businesses should follow to make commercial custom signage accessible.

Your sign must:

  • Be large enough to be read easily
  • Have good proportions on all images
  • Get mounted somewhere where people can read them from a distance
  • Have high-contrast colors for readability
  • Include easy-to-understand pictograms (if you have pictograms)
  • Include Braille as well as English if they denote a specific room

It's important to take these guidelines seriously. Just one signage violation can slap you with a fine of up to $75,000. Keep them in mind when creating signs for businesses.

Don't Skimp on Size

A big sign is essential for meeting ADA requirements, but it's also important so that people can notice and use your directional signs. If you have a tiny directory, it'll be hard for visitors to find when they enter your building. Make sure it's large and clearly labeled as a "DIRECTORY."

Backlit graphics and floor graphics should be about the size of a table. Window graphics and elevator wraps should take up most of the space. This will keep them noticeable and easy to read.

Adequately sized directories can stop people from getting stressed out. It'll give them the mental health boost they need to navigate your space confidently.

Stand Out With Great Sign Design

Now that you know how to design directional signs that pay off, it's time to begin designing your custom signage. Experts at Huston Signs are committed to helping you stand out with all projects including simple signage, complex and detailed designs, and installing lights that make graphics pop. We've been serving businesses since 1939, so contact us to take advantage of our vast experience.
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