7 Tips to Designing Effective Signs

While there is so much focus on advertising businesses and services over the internet and on mobile phones, sometimes what you need to pass the message to potential customers is a nicely done and old-fashioned signage. And when it comes to business signage, the single most important aspect is the design.

Photo by Ben Taylor from Pexels

There are a lot of things that you will need to consider to get the best results from your signage. Whether you just want a small open sign or a massive banner that uses large format printing, it’s important to make it clear, legible, and effective.  Remember that signs only work when they are seen. For this reason, you want to focus on readability and visibility as well. Read on to learn more design tips to make your signage outstanding and attention-grabbing.

  1. Make it Legible

It might sound obvious but the most important thing about any business sign is to be readable especially from afar. Legibility can be crucially important depending on where your business is located. If it is situated near a busy road or motorway, you will need to ensure that the sign can not only be read but also understood by motorists in a few seconds.

This means that you should appraise every element of your business sign for visual clarity. Make sure your logo is unambiguous and also doesn’t have any fiddly details. Below are some of the tips to ensure your open sign or any other type of sign is legible:

• Choose your typography carefully. Avoid crowded and decorative fonts as these may pose a challenge to read especially from far.

• Colors and contrast: if, for instance, you use cream text color on a white sign, it may not be easily readable on a sunny and bright day. You are best pairing darkly colored backgrounds with texts that are lightly colored. This will ensure that the most important elements are outstanding.

• Do not overuse capital letters: a lot of inexperienced designers erroneously think that they will make important texts striking or more impactful by capitalizing all of them. However, it has been proved that mixing lower and upper-case letters improves readability. 

• Spacing: when too many elements are lumped together, they can be hard to understand. Give each element of the design of some breathing room. 

  1. Graphics

Using the right graphics is critical to signage design. You can’t afford to make even a small mistake here because it can have a disastrous effect on how your finished signs appear. To get the best graphics for your signs, team up with a professional graphics designer. They will ensure that you do not end up with too many or too few components on your finished design.

  1. Spacing

Any great signage design must incorporate spacing consideration. While some people will see the blank space on signage as something to fill up, the truth is that allowing space can bring dramatic appeal and pop to your signs. This can attract even more potential customers to your business. If a sign doesn’t have any blank space, it will look busy or crowded, which risks turning potential clients away.

  1. Fewer is More

It’s tempting to tell your customers everything about your company and how you are so good at what you do. But doing this in a small space such as a banner you will have points battling it out for attention.

Rather than try to include everything about your company and its offerings, pick one or two central themes, and focus on them. For example, if you are launching a new service or product that is hoped to reignite or generate interest in your business, it is advisable to focus your advertising dollars on the specific service or product.

  1. Be Clear on What You Do

Unless you are a well-established brand, you cannot get away with scanty messaging on your signage. Established brands like McDonald’s don’t need to advertise in their sign that they offer hamburgers yet hungry diners will go there expecting to get it. 

Taking a cue from this kind of minimalist messaging, some small business owners may be tempted to adorn their premises with stylish signs that say things like” Maggie’s” or “Serendipity”, leaving no clue regarding what they offer. 

Although the building and the window display may provide contextual hints to help a customer determine the purpose of the business, you should not make it so difficult for the viewer to know what your business is involved in. In the case of buildings that are situated by the road, motorists may pass at high speeds and won’t have time to figure out whether your business is a law firm or a bakery.

But for simple messages like a closed or open sign, it’s okay to use one word.

  1. Type and Font

Generally, clean, crispy, and easy-to-read type styles offer maximum legibility. The majority of professional fonts have different weights, and they range from bold to regular, extended, black, etc. Take full advantage of these by giving preference or priority to key parts of your message.

The rule of thumb is to never exceed two font types in one design. You need to choose two fonts complementing each other to make your message stand out. The fonts you choose should be legible when read from a distance.

  1. Mix Things Up

It helps to mix things a little to break monotony and boredom. Change the message, the shape, or the color to continue grabbing your customer’s attention. Apart from just grabbing the attention of the customer, your signage should also hold their attention so they read it to the end. This will encourage your chances of attracting more customers. For realtors, real estate text riders are great signs for generating more listing leads.


For any business that faces the public, the signage you put above the door forms the first and the most important contact point between you and the potential customers walking by. Whether it is an open sign or other, a lot of thought needs to go into it for it to effectively convey your message. Therefore, getting the signage right could be the best way to communicate what you offer and get the customers streaming in. For your signage to be effective, it has to be readable, contains space, has contrast, and be very clear on what your business does. 

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