There are signs around your workplace right now covering myriad issues: safety, government regulations, union rules, company policies and project status. They relate vital information that must be understandable–some in a split second–to the reader. Here are some simple guidelines to follow when designing and creating signs for your workplace, whether that’s in an office, a pre-fab shop or a construction site.
- Use graphics: Whenever possible, use a simple piece of art on your sign. Not only will it attract the eye of the reader, but a well-chosen graphic will convey the message of the sign without any words being read. Graphics also help with people who can’t read English and those who have trouble reading.
- Don’t get fancy: Something that has an exotic font or a bunch of pictures is going to be harder to read from the street or from across the shop floor. Put your artistic skills in the drawer when you design a shop and go with simple words and images that quickly convey your message. Make sure your words stand out so your message does, too.
- Streamline your message: Signs aren’t supposed to be novels. One or two words are very effective messages–”STOP!” “WET FLOOR!” Or “EMERGENCY EXIT”–which readers can comprehend in a split second when you need to get their attention.
- Placed where it can be seen: The right sign in the right location will be very effective. Hanging a sign telling people they’re entering an area where goggles are required is better on the outside of the door than halfway into your shop. Don’t cluster signs; give each its own moment to get the reader’s attention.
It’s important to know where your sign will be used upon completion because many details on your sign are directly related to where your sign will be located. For areas where people are moving–like a hallway–signs should have short messages in a large font and no small print. In places where people can sit and read things more leisurely–like break rooms and meeting spaces–your notices can have more detail and longer passages to convey detailed information. If your sign is in a high-movement area, use stark contrasting colors to make it readable; if it’s in a break room, you can use more colors to make it more decorative.
Also, attempt to rotate signs or replace them regularly. The signs can have the same message, or even just be a newer version of an old, worn sign. Because people tend to tune-out things that become routine for them, changing signs will re-engage the audience with the message.