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10 Design tips for event signs

Designing event signs can be a nerve-wracking ordeal for those who have limited experience with sign design.

“What exactly do I put on there?” “Will this sign confuse people?” “Will it be effective?”
  These concerns are just some of the thoughts that can race through the head of the person tasked with the design. Here are 10 tips that our designers here at AlphaGraphics use when they create event signs. These tips are meant to help make your signage effective and easy to read:

1. Remember the basics - what, where, when, why?

Good sign design starts with taking the following questions into consideration: What, where, when, and why?
  • What event is taking place?
  • Where is it taking place at?
  • When will the event be held?
  • Why is the event taking place?
Event signs that are the most effective answer the above four questions – and only those four questions. The attention span of the average person is somewhat limited, and the last thing you want to make them do is to think or read. Just give them the basics, and if they want to learn more you can leave the URL of your website towards the bottom of the sign where all the juicy details will reside.

2. Consider scale – readability

You should also take into consideration how big your sign will be. If you’re designing a big sign meant to be seen by people in cars, and the letter height is only 6 inches, then the maximum readable distance is barely 60 feet. At 60 miles per hour, a person inside a car has less than one second to read the sign. Now compare that with a 48” letter height. The readable distance is now 480 feet and the time that someone traveling at 60 miles an hour inside a car has to read it is 5.25 seconds. A lot longer than 1 second, but still not enough time to read a novel.

3. Plan installation location - avoid obstructions

You also need to take into consideration where the sign will be installed. Are there any physical obstructions that will make the sign challenging or impossible to read? The best way to ascertain this is to go to the physical site where the sign will reside. Pretend you are the target audience (whether on foot or inside a car) and then see if there are any physical obstructions that could limit people from viewing your sign.

4. Plan installation location – avoid blending in 

You should also take into consideration the color of the area your sign will be installed. For example, if the event sign will be installed on a cream-colored wall, and your event sign is cream colored, people are going to have a hard time reading it. You could have a perfectly designed event sign, but if it blends in with the background of where it will be installed, it’s not going to have an overall good effect.

5. Do you need a CTA?

“CTA” is an acronym for “Call to Action”. It is an instruction or directive for people to perform an action. CTA’s are very important when it comes to designing a sign. They tell people what they need to do if they want “x, y, or z” to happen. A couple of examples of CTA’s are:
  • Buy Now!
  • Limited Space, Register Now!
  • Call for Info!
Signs that don’t have a call-to-action are less effective than those that do. Event signs should be both informative and instructive. The information tells the what, where, when, and why. The instructive part (CTA) persuades the reader to attend the event.

6. Limit colors

You should limit the number of colors you use to two. According to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, an extra color added to a sign increases reader retention by 78%. Any more than that and the human eye has a hard time focusing on what to read first. Limiting your colors is essential because color has meaning. When you start adding 3, 4, or even 5 colors to a sign, things get muddied up in the human eye. It can’t distinguish what to focus on and in the end, it becomes a confusing mess for the reader. 

7. Limit graphics

Studies have shown that when a photo used, the readability jumps up to 300%. However, this only applies to one image. If the sign is “too busy” then people will have a challenging time reading it. If too many graphics are present, it takes away from the message the words are trying to convey.

8. Keep design simple

Keeping the design simple is a combination of limiting colors, graphics, and keeping the information short and concise. There comes a point when too much is too much, and nobody is going to read the sign because their eyes don’t know where to focus first.

9. Add a border

If you add a border, it can increase reading speed by up to 26%. This is because the border forces your eyes to focus on a specific area (the sign itself). It’s recommended that a border is used when targeting automobile traffic as the viewers only have a limited time frame to read what’s on the sign.

10. Take advantage of white space

White space is any blank space on your sign that text or graphics occupy. Too little whitespace and the sign looks crowded and can be hard to read. The same goes for your text. Try moving your text and graphics around so that everything looks balanced to the eye. Once you finish your design, physically stand up from your computer and look at your monitor from a distance. If the overall design looks too crowded, it probably is.

Event sign design in New Bern

If designing your own event sign is proving to be too much of a challenge, let the expert designers at AlphaGraphics help you out. To learn more about how AlphaGraphics of New Bern can produce and design your next project, you may email us, request a quote or call us at (252) 633-3199.

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