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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 30-Nov-07

 


Friday 30-November-07

Signage

There are signs everywhere around us, on buildings, products, road and more. But what makes an effective sign?

The first thing that it needs is to grab attention. In all the confusion of daily life, signs may have only a fraction of a second to say 'Hey! Look at me!' The way they typically do this is by using the principle of contrast, with bright colours that make the sign stand out from its surrounding. The eye is more sensitive to the red end of the spectrum and so red, orange and yellow are more popular than green, blue and purple.

Another trick is to use a border that clearly separated the sign from its surroundings. Red often works well here.
The text should stand out against the background for which contrasting colours should be used. Black on white may be boring but it is easiest to read, particularly for a block of text.

'Shout words' may be used as as attention-grabbing headlines -- or maybe the only words (especially when people are unlikely to stop and read).

Symbols may also be used, particularly where language may be a problem. Symbols can be ambiguous and common, familiar images are often best.

Where you put the sign matters too, because you cannot expect people to go looking for it. Signs thus must be either directly where people look or within their peripheral vision (from where they must grab attention).

Road signs are amongst the best examples of signs. If you want dig deeper into the academic stuff, the science of signs is a part of semiotics.

And this is just scratching the surface. In short, designing and placing signs is a whole big bag of tricks.


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