The Science Behind Signage
Optimized for Your Eyes!
When it comes to crafting signs, there is a science to creating a piece that will not only convey your message, but also will encourage your audience to take action. The main purpose of a sign is to provide information, and if the information is poorly communicated, then the message will be lost to its intended audience.
However, by understanding 5 key concepts, your next message can be clearly communicated, and your sign can have a lasting impact.
1.) Hierarchy of Information:
Since the main purpose of a sign is to convey information, understanding the hierarchy of information (what is most important and what is least important) is the most significant aspect of creating signage. A designer’s first step is to understand exactly what message the client wants to convey — the most important piece of information — because that should stand out and capture viewers. There are three levels to consider:
- Viewers who aren’t invested
- Viewers who are slightly invested
- Viewers who are deeply invested.
By making sure you have some element in your sign that caters to all three tiers of viewership (a theory all sign makers should take to heart), you can influence your audience to come closer, look longer, and read more. Once you understand what you are going to say, and how you are going to say it, then you can use tools like color, scale, and contrast to help support your message.
2.) Color Theory:
The colors we use in your design are extremely important. Colors fall into the following categories:
- Primary colors (red, yellow, blue)
- Secondary colors (orange, green, purple)
- Warm colors (red, orange, yellow)
- Cool colors (green, blue, purple)
Color theory plays a major role in the design of marketing pieces. For example, cool colors tend to be more recessive, which makes them well-suited to being used in the backgrounds of signs, whereas warm colors tend to be more oppressive, which make them work well in the foreground of signs.
Hue, saturation, and value also are key elements to color theory. Hue is the outright color. In contrast, saturation ranges from the absence of any color to the most the color could be. Value is the whiteness or blackness of any color. Saturating a hue increases or decreases the intensity of a color, and changing the hue’s value makes the color lighter or darker. And just so everyone’s clear, white is a tint, and black is a shade.
When picking out the typeface for your sign, it’s important to pick typeface treatments that support your brand, and/or typefaces that are in line with the content and messaging of your sign. Above all, the typefaces must be legible. If viewers have trouble reading your sign, then your message will be lost because they aren’t going to try and figure out what your sign says. The feel the typeface gives the sign is also important. For example, if you are making a warning sign, you aren’t going to have “Caution” spelled out in thin, cursive letters — you’re going to have it in a big, bold typeface. Other things to avoid with typefaces are those that are trite, “costumey,” pre-distressed, or have odd ornamentation.
Relating back to viewership and hierarchy of information, scale is the relation of one element to another. To put it quite simply, you make the most important information larger, and information that is not as important, smaller. If the viewer is captured by the most important nugget of information, then they will move closer to read the smaller bits of information on the sign.
5.) Dimensional Features:
While dimensional features are perhaps the least important aspect of visual impact, they still help reinforce your hierarchy of information. By adding another dimension to your signage, you are giving your message a more dynamic presentation, which can help make your message stand out.
By understanding these 5 aspects of visual impact, you can take your signage to the next level, ensuring that your message is effortlessly conveyed. At Big Visual Group, our expert design and production teams understand every nuance that goes into crafting the perfect sign. Let us help make sure your message is seen and heard.