The Top 4 Mistakes To Avoid in Signage Design

June 18, 2024
A designer is sitting at a computer with various images on the screen while drawing in a sketchpad.
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When developing your marketing materials, don’t neglect the niceties of signage design! Effective signs catch the eye, deliver information, leave an impression, and drive the viewer to action. Unfortunately, not every sign can do that because the designer or marketer made one of the following errors. Here are the top four mistakes to avoid in signage design so your communications can really sing!

Overcomplicated Design

There’s nothing wrong with showing off a little every now and then. If you have the skills, it’s worth displaying them and impressing others. Sometimes, too much is too much, especially with sign layout. While you may feel the urge to share every image and bit of information in your signage, clutter is never pretty or useful.

Prioritize! Keep the message simple and the imagery clear. Focus on one message, and engage white space to highlight the content you want people to notice first and last. Some marketers suggest the three-second rule. If your audience can’t discern and absorb your message in three seconds, it’ll be lost.

Poor Color Choices

Color is your friend, but it can also be your enemy or frenemy. Picking the wrong colors for a sign can elicit unpleasant reactions in the viewer—red might be too vivid and reminiscent of danger, while sickly colors can nauseate the viewer. They can also obscure your messaging if they overwhelm the text color. Consider the lighting levels wherever the sign hangs. Dim or intense lighting can overwhelm the sign’s colors, washing them out or making them appear more garish than they are. Keep things high contrast, employing black, white, blue, and yellow in a sign, for example.

Forgetting Legibility

If your viewer can’t read the text on your sign, what’s the point? Remember to keep fonts large, simple, and spaced far enough apart to allow the viewer to read in an instant. Typography in signage is very important, so don’t neglect it! Don’t get fancy with typefaces, either. Just because there are millions of cool-looking fonts doesn’t mean you should use them all.

For basic messaging, leave the stylized fonts alone and stick to standards like Helvetica. Sans-serif is your best ally in creating legible text at a distance.

Call to Action Amnesia

You’ve done it! You created the perfect sign! The photos are gorgeous, crisp, and clear; the branding is par excellence; and the text is perfectly readable, even at a great distance. You’ve turned out an award-winning design, so all that’s left to do is to wait for the customers to start pouring in… but they don’t. What happened? Upon review, you notice that you failed to include a call to action. This announcement is the next step you want customers to take—visiting your website, calling your number, or coming to an event. Give your call to action a place of prominence, using direct language to prompt customers to act now! Keep these top four mistakes to avoid in signage design in order to keep clients coming in!

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