What Makes a Good Sign?
No matter where it is located, the number one job of any sign is to communicate information as quickly and effectively as possible. This is often easier said than done. In order to be a good sign, these four key points should be considered when designing an interior or exterior signage solution:
- Audience (primary and secondary)
- Message (brand, location, desired visibility)
- Environment (location, architectural features)
- Function (requires updates, durability, elements)
Audience — Identifying the Primary and Secondary Users is the Most Important Factor for a Good Sign
The way in which information is conveyed is perceived differently from person to person. In order to craft a message and a design that can be understood by the majority, you need to identify the language(s) spoken by the target audience.
Displaying Multi-Lingual Messages and Pictograms
While English is the majority language spoken in the U.S., the number of ESL (English as Second Language) people has grown dramatically. In addition, more than 9 million adults in the U.S. are illiterate and rely on pictograms and symbols to find their way. Therefore, the most effective solution is to integrate multilingual messages and pictograms on key information and regulatory signs. Although there are a number of universally recognized symbols used in signage, there may be symbols that may have different connotations in other cultural and ethnic backgrounds and thus may offend certain users.
The messages should be brief, accurate, and comprehensible for an 8th grade reading level. The letter heights and Braille on regulatory and fixed room signs should conform to the latest ADA Guidelines, and by achieving a 70% Light Reflectance Value (LRV) contrast between sign text and background colors will make for an ideal guideline.
You should utilize other architectural elements to assist as visual cues to avoid over-signing a facility, which may create confusion. The signage should be placed in locations identified in a completed wayfinding analysis, as well as the shape, color and design of the signage should complement the architectural environment.
The environment will largely drive the needed performance and functionality of a sign. Another thing to consider is durability based on environmental elements and/or the facility users. If change occurs frequently, signage should be implemented to accommodate the change
Functionality is Key to a Long Lifecycle When the function is part of the evaluation process, signage can be implemented to create efficiencies and alleviate maintenance of the program. From considering the re-order of a sign to the need for frequent updates, several sign options are available to choose from. Consider options that would utilize a variety of signage types and product applications to create a comprehensive solution. This can be derived from a combination of custom designed signs to digital room displays to a modular system.