Category Archives: Communicating

Successful Business Owners Are Sign Savvy

sidewalk-signThere are two very common complaints that we hear about advertising. The first one is that it can be very expensive and the second one is that it “may or may not” pay off. They’re right. Yes, it can be very expensive to advertise your business or event when using traditional forms of advertising such as radio, tv or print mailers. If the message isn’t that compelling, then the ROI (Return On Investment) can be very low.

Let’s look at one common scenario that we’ve repeatedly encountered with our customers; the customer has just started their first business and they need to promote their services.They’ve had a few sales people stop by with a pitch like “advertise with our radio/TV station and we promise we’ll bring in new business…all you have to do is sign this contact and we will start billing you a thousand dollars each month for the next year”. Tempting…the promise of new business.

However, because of the enormous cost with radio advertising, the business owner seeks the advise of others. They contact a business owner with a well established thriving business and that business associate advises them to try using better signage before they commit $12,000 a year to a limited market demographic. The business associate explains that he spent $250.00 for a couple of A-Frame signs from Signs Direct along with four custom printed sign panels. He put them out in front of his business which gets “average” vehicle traffic. He explains that he found that he starting to get new business right away. He asked his new customers how they heard about his business and most said “we saw your signs and decided to stop” which showed one advantage of “point of purchase” signage.

If a sidewalk “sandwich board” sign costs $200 with custom printed sign panels and it lasts 3 years outdoors, then you’re looking at less than $6 per monthly to advertise to passing traffic right by the location where they can make their purchase. Sidewalk signs really are one of the most economical way to promote your business. So, the business owner seeking advertising advise reaches out to Signs Direct and purchase a few A-Frame signs and some custom signs. They even purchase a few wall mountable snap frames for interior advertising after the Sidewalk signs get the potential customers into their building.

After a few months of increased sales, they conclude that they spent their advertising budget wisely and become regular customers of Signs Direct..

Please visit signsdirect.com for all your sign and advertising needs.

National Park Signs: More to Them Than Just Sticking Them In The Ground

Selected rules regarding the placement and design of signs in the National Parks

A good painting of a modern American family would be a fully packed station wagon of sorts driving past a National Park sign with a scenic backdrop and clear, blue sky. A lot of energy has been spent on those signs, cultivating that American image we’re so familiar with when we enter one of the country’s pristine natural areas, or centers of our culture and heritage. It’s not just the entrance signs in the parks that are of special consideration, however. All signs are governed by rules agreed upon by the National Park Service (NPS), as well as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Sign-governing rules in the parks are fairly intense, as they must transmit highly important information to a wide-variety of people from all over the world; furthermore, these signs must fit the aesthetic of the National Parks, so as not to be viewed as sign pollution, but as part of the park, and a delicate connector of humanity to nature.

National Parks entrance signs

The FHWA oversees signs along roadways, and ensures their uniformity. However, roads overseen by the National Parks are special cases. The purpose of National Parks roads is to essentially provide a path through the park for the enjoyment of the visitor. This special consideration was afforded to the entrance signs at the National Parks. According to FHWA rules, National Park entrance signs should be the same as any other sign denoting a landmark. However, thanks to a special agreement between the NPS and the FHWA, entrances to National Parks welcome visitors with the beautifully designed signs that are as recognizable as the scenery.

Signs in National Parks: What do they need?

According to the NPS sign manual (1988), there are some stock questions to be answered when planning a sign. The number one question is “What does the visitor need to know?” (p. 3-1). The idea of the need for the sign relates to the rest of the questions as well. Considerations such as if guidance is actually needed, where it’s needed, what message should be needed, and how it’s displayed, need to be weighed in sign design and placement.

The manual says that the aforementioned questions should be answered by a group of people. This group should also assess whether the sign is for either cars or pedestrians, or both, and what speed at which the sign will be presented.

How to make an effective sign

The NPS manual lists four ways signs are effective, and five things to ponder when making effective signs for use within a National Park. The four basic principles a sign must follow are that it must have a purpose, it must be seen easily and present itself authoritatively, its message must be simple, and it must give enough warning so as to be useful. To achieve these four goals, the NPS suggests following the following five principles.

  1. Uniformity – Simply put, “Similar situations are treated in the same way,” (p. 3-1). Messages should be easily recognizable and relatable to drivers and other park goers.
  2. Design – Take into account color and contrast, size of the sign and its text, shape and clarity of message when designing a sign. Also, lighting and reflectivity for night visibility are important considerations when making a sign.
  3. Placement – Should be in a spot that it will be seen and attention gets paid to it. It should give enough time to respond for cars moving at appropriate speeds.
  4. Operation – A sign must work like all other signs to which it’s similar. Uses of the sign must be consistent with all other uses of a similar sign.
  5. Maintenance – These signs must conform to a high standard of appearance so they remain readable and visible. Signs should be removed if they become unnecessary.

 

Ultimately, the park manager will sign off on the necessity of the signs. The biggest consideration they’ll likely useis that the sign fits the ideal behind park roads, which is that their intended purpose is not convenience or a fast route anywhere, but that the roads are paths being used to better the experience of National Park visitors.

Sign post considerations

Steel u-channel signposts have some particular usesin the National Parks, but in general, signposts are made from timber. There are safety considerations when choosing a sign posts.  For example, they need to breakaway if they are positioned in “an area of recovery” so that if a motorist swerves off the road andhits onethey can recover and drive back onto the roadway. For this reason, a timber sign post may not have a uniform cross section greater than 24 square inches. If a sign is of a size where a post of 24 square inches is not enough, then two or even three posts may be used. If using two posts, they may not each exceed 3”x6” or 4”x5”; round posts may not exceed 5” in diameter. For three timber posts, the biggest they can measure is 3”x5” or 4”x4”, or 4.5” in diameter.

Use of u-channel posts in National Parks

The NPS sign manual says in areas where it makes sense to use more durable signs, as well as road signs used under rules imposed by the FHWA, u-channel sign posts should be used. This includes along hiking trails, ski slopes and back country areas, where a u-channel sign post would be more durable against the elements, and where inspections are less frequent. U-channel sign posts require less maintenance than timber signs. Furthermore, u-channel sign posts should be used with aluminum, reflectorized signs, not the routed wood signs.

Sign messages

When creating road signs for the National Parks, there are rules to follow to ensure signs maintain uniformity and visibility. Road signs may not have more than eight words on them. Furthermore, each message on a sign can be no more than four words. There can also be no more than three worded messages per sign. In the event that a sign would exceed any of these limits, then another sign is necessary. Also, no more than three symbols are allowed per sign (such as directional arrows), and only one symbol per message.

The NPS sign manual is over 200 pages long, and it also references the UniGuide, which is a manual for the use of signs and giving visitor information in the National Parks. The UniGuide is over 900 pages long. It contains the vast amount of regulations regarding road signs, as well as the routed wood signs found throughout the National Parks. The attention to detail in the signs of our National Parks is impressive, but not as impressiveas the scenic beauty of the parks themselves.

The Sign Shoppe, Episode 3 – Bad Logo Designed By Client

bad logo design

Carol has a challenge. A new client wants to use a really bad logo for his new business signage. The challenge is his wife created the logo. How can Carol help him without offending? Ray is no help at all, but the Boss has a few ideas. Watch now.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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The Sign Shoppe, Episode 2

Ray gets a harsh lesson on sign design. Carol wonders if she’ll take a pay cut. Ray comes up with a job-saving creative idea for a sign, and returns to his boss’s good graces as the coveted “Star Employee”. Watch now.

 

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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The Sign Shoppe, Episode 1 (Pilot)

The Sign Shoppe

 

Another accident occurs at the Sign Shoppe when cutting substrate for a client. The boss promises Ray he’ll find a better way. He calls a trusted source for Sign Shops, and learns about a Fletcher substrate cutter – faster, more accurate, and much safer. Watch the episode now!

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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The Four Types of Wayfinding Signage

Wayfinding Signage

Whether a university is being built or a street fair is springing up, wayfinding signage is one of the keys to a great visitor experience. A university might be more interested in permanent signage solutions, while the street fair’s wayfinding is created from DIY A-frame signs. The basic guiding principles behind the design and placement of those signs should be the same. Signs deliver information, and in wayfinding signage, only a handful of different types of signs are necessary to deliver information. Knowing what those types of signs are is an integral part to creating a useful system of wayfinding signage. So what are the four types of signs? Ernest Dwight (2008) makes the most sense when he lists these four:

wayfinding-signage-3

  • Identification
  • Directional
  • Informational
  • Regulatory

Defining these four types of signs is simple, as is knowing how to use them. When designing the system, remember, the simpler the wayfinding signage system is made, the better for all involved; from the designers of the wayfinding signage system, to the visitors using it to get around. The idea behind designing signs is to convey as much information as necessary in as little space possible. That’s why it helps to think of signs in these four different categories. So what are these types of signs and how should they get used?

Identification signs

On August 25, 1916, Congress created the National Park Service. Aside from their natural beauty and the effort that goes into preserving it, National Parks are also well-known for their entrance signs. These entrance signs are a perfect example of what identification signs are all about. They identify the park. Inside the park, identification signs point out specific park features and areas. Identification signs can take the form of words labeling the location, or they can display icons, such as a tent signifying that the location is a campsite. Identification signs serve visitors best if they are easy to understand. They shouldn’t point the way to a location, an identification sign symbolizes arrival at the location. For pointing the way, there are directional signs.

Directional signs

When it comes to pointing the way, the directional or wayfinding signs are the sign for the job. When using directional signage, the best rule to follow is to keeping it simple. When planning a wayfinding system, try to plan it as early in the overall planning stage as possible. Unfortunately, wayfinding plans often get left to the end, and don’t receive the attention they deserve. Directional signs don’t appear at the location, they appear around the location and on the way to the location. Directional signs need to be hidden in plain sight. They should appear at junctions, or anywhere a person on a way to a location might look to see which way to get to that location. Directional signs are also what turn a group of many individuals into a singular crowd. Airports, for instance, aren’t made for standing around; they’re made for transit. Directional signs keep people moving where they shouldn’t be standing still. So someone follows the directional signs until they find the identification sign. When they find that, they’ll need an informational sign to know a little more.

Informational signs

What are the hours of operation? Is public Wi-Fi available? Did the Marquis de Lafayette say this bust of George Washington is the best likeness of him that he’s ever seen? All this and more can be supplied to visitors through informational signs. While informational signs can be found at locations marked by identification signs, they can also provide information about other things along the route. For instance, if an area is under construction, it’d be nice to give a little head’s up to anyone in sandals that the road might get a little rocky. If a way is temporarily closed, that’s also good to know ahead of time. While the informational signs are there to put people in the know, it’s the regulatory signs that tell them what they can and cannot do.

Regulatory signs

Some of the most important signs are regulatory signs. These signs tell people the regulations or requirements of the area. Is parking allowed? The sign says “no parking,” so no it isn’t. Speed limit signs, no parking signs and stop signs are all good examples of regulatory signs for traffic control, but signs that tell people they need to wear shirts and shoes may also be considered regulatory signs. Is smoking in the area not allowed? How will people know without a regulatory sign with a no smoking allowed symbol? Regulatory signs need to be clearly visible to warn of rules or regulations of which the disregard might constitute a violation of the law or regulate behavior in public places.

The messages on every type of sign listed above should be crystal clear, and as short as possible. Too many signs can be just as bad as too few. Aside from that, the rules are simple; directional signs point the way, identification signs announce the location, informational signs tell about the location, and regulatory signs set rules and regulations for the area.

References
Dwight, E. (2008). Signs of the Times. American School & University, 80(12), 38-40.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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30 Day Sign Design Workshop

sign design tips

Day 1 Sign Design Tip

Readability is the #1 consideration. What good can a sign do if it can’t be read at a glance?  (click to tweet this)

 

 

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Wayfinding Signage: 4 Questions You Need the Answers to

wayfinding signage

Imagine what an airport would look like if there were no signs to direct people to where they need to go. There’d be chaos as travelers would be forced to explore the airport to find their gates based on landmarks and clues. As Stephen Zacks (2009) said, poor spatial flow combined with inadequate signage adds up to confused people. Fortunately there are signs in airports, as well as colleges, hospitals, and other public areas where crowds shuffle through corridors. However, there’s more to wayfinding signage than simply having signs to direct people. Robin Styles-Lopez (2003) said that “thinking ahead is crucial,” and the planning for wayfinding signage should be included at the start of any architectural project.

Wayfinding Signage

This article will address wayfinding signage by answering four questions. First, it will define wayfinding. Then it will cover types of signs and some standards that get used in a wayfinding scheme. Next, it will cover the proper use of wayfinding signage, and finally, this article will cover some ancillary benefits of a strong plan behind a wayfinding scheme.

What is wayfinding signage?

In essence, wayfinding is using signs to point direction. Styles-Lopez, and also Gillian Fuller (2002) said that wayfinding is processing spatial and environmental information to navigate an area. Fuller calls wayfinding “spatial problem solving,” (p. 234), and also said it reassures people in unfamiliar surroundings. She also said that in the case of airports, the sign commands a direction, not a condition of use; i.e., “go this way to Y” instead of “If you follow X path, you will reach Y.” According to Fuller, wayfinding signage collects the individual travelers in the airport and turns them into a crowd. Signs provide crowd control. Wayfinding signage acts as a heart pumping people in transit to their destination through the veins and arteries of public space.

What types of signs are used in wayfinding signage?

Ernest Dwight (2008) said there are four types of signs used in wayfinding signage. The first type is the identification sign; these signs mark an area and provide a name to a location. The next type of sign is the directional sign. Directional signs guide people to a location. Informational signs provide facts about an area or location, such as operating hours, or whether WiFi is available. Lastly, regulatory signs describe what is and isn’t allowed in a particular area. To corroborate Dwight, Fuller cites “the Airport Passenger Terminal” (Hart, 1985) as “professional literature,” and said it lists three types of wayfinding signs, which are directional, identifying and informational.

Four types of signs

  • Identification
  • Directional
  • Informational
  • Regulatory

Paul Poblocki (2007) said that wayfinding signage further benefits from programmable electronic message boards. These message boards can be used to convey directional messages or informational messages as needed.

A note on ADA compliance

In 2010, new standards from the U.S. Department of Justice related to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) came into effect to standardize wayfinding signage for people with visual impairments. Prior to the 2010 standards, there were mandates for wayfinding signs to include Braille and raised tactile letters, but there was no standard for how they should be designed. Many signs, though compliant, were designed inadequately, and were hard for the visually impaired to read. The 2010 standards spelled out standards for how the Braille and raised tactile letters should appear on all compliant signs. The standards also suggest a minimum contrast of 70 percent regarding letters and their background. In simpler terms, signs should be dark on light or light on dark. Finally, the new ADA standards also prohibit glossy finishes on wayfinding signage.

How should wayfinding signage be used?

As Fuller said, airports rely on signage to direct people. They are to be “obeyed, not believed,” (p. 231). Dwight said that design consistency is important to produce the proper impression of authority in the signs. Poblocki had a few suggestions, including using rounded corners on signs with protruding corners, to keep public safety in mind. He also suggested working with one sign provider, to best obtain design consistency. Both Dwight and Poblocki suggest that too many signs are just as bad as too few, and that a principle of “keep it simple” should be followed. Signs should blend with the surrounding architecture, and to paraphrase Poblocki, wayfinding signage ought to be hidden in plain sight. No one should ever have to look for a sign. As Dwight said, they should always appear right where they’re needed. Furthermore, Zacks recommended “the Wayfinding Handbook” as a great resource for signage principles and design.

What are the benefits of good wayfinding signage?

Aside from preventing mass confusion and chaos, implementing a new system for wayfinding signage is an opportunity to reinforce a brand, Dwight said. Through design consistency, important colors, mascots, emblems, and more can be displayed. Wayfinding signage can provide an areal identity. Moreover, Styles-Lopez said that one way to make a good first impression is to ensure people know their way around the area. If an airport lacked wayfinding signage, it certainly would leave a lasting first impression, but it probably wouldn’t be a good one.

References

Dwight, E. (2008). Signs of the Times. American School & University, 80(12), 38-40.
Fuller, G. (2002). The Arrow–Directional Semiotics: Wayfinding in Transit. Social Semiotics, 12(3), 231.
Humrickhouse, L. (2012). New ADA Rules Take Effect. American Libraries, 43(5/6), 24-25.
Poblocki, P. (2007). Signage/Wayfinding. American School & University, 80(1), 18.
Styles-Lopez, R. L. (2003). FINDING YOUR WAY. American School & University, 76(3), 304-306.
Zacks, S. (2009). way to go. Print, 63(3), 94.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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The Power of Hand Drawn Signs Over Digitally Printed Signage

hand drawn signs

It’s a cool fall morning with a light breeze blowing about. After wandering the sidewalks and corridors of a quaint downtown, you find yourself at the foot of two storefronts; both coffee shops.

One has a glowing generic “Open” sign and a few digitally printed images of coffee beans that are clearly from some corporate clipart collection. The other shop is similar, but it has a clearly custom made neon open sign and also has a sidewalk sign out front with colorful, hand-written words standing out against a black chalkboard. The homey looking sign highlights the day’s drink specials and leads your eyes to the propped open door and the sound of light chatter. Which shop sounds more inviting to you? Which one seems more “craft” oriented?

People are more inclined to visit certain types of stores when they have sidewalk signs out front. The hand drawn element brings a personal touch to their advertising and serve as a welcoming invitations to pedestrians.

There may be a need to convey time-sensitive information that the merchant cannot include on their main sign. The primary identity sign typically only displays the business name and sometimes a slogan. For example, coffee shops may have a large primary sign with the shop name so it can be identified. Additionally, it may also have an A-frame sign near the entrance for timely messages. The a-frame displays information that cannot be displayed permanently on the primary sign, such as advertising hot cider in the fall. What better way to convey that information than at the point of purchase? Some may choose to display time-sensitive information on a main sign using a programmable LED scrolling message board, but they aren’t appropriate for the mood of quaint coffee shops and are very expensive to own.

How to create great looking sign art

Some options include having an artistic staff member take a few moments in the morning to write the day’s specials with a creative flare. Others can offer more consistent and uniform looking designs, such as making a design on a computer, then using a projector to project the image onto the sign board and tracing the graphics.

Things to avoid when creating sign art

Though it can be artistic, content must be readable at a glance. The main point of the sign is to advertise. If content cannot be read within a few seconds, pedestrians will not stop to figure it out.

To achieve this, use as few words as possible, by utilizing readable letter styles. Make sure there is enough contrast to make letters readable. An artistic approach to signs is important, but conveying your message must come first and foremost.

 

How to order

We are a leading provider of signs and offers a large variety of products including parking signs, safety signs, lighted signs, custom signs, and other sign components. For more information, or to order call 877-706-4601 or email sales@signsdirect.com.

 

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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5 Tips For Designing A Customized No Cell Phone Sign

no cell phone sign

Mobile phone usage has become rampant in everyday society. Effectively customizing a no cell phone sign to fit specific needs can improve everyone’s safety level. Below are some tips to take into consideration.

1. Know your viewers

An effective sign will display a message in an easy-to-understand manner. Many companies may find using the universal symbol of a cell phone graphic cross-out with an angled line compatible with viewers. Universal symbols were developed to improve multi-cultural understanding among all languages.

Designing ADA compliant signs will help a firm comply with governmental regulations. ADA, standing for American Disabilities Act, signs fit in perfectly in areas where cell phone usage can hinder others. Reputable sign providers, like Signs Direct, offer over 2500 templates to customize. Companies can design a tactile sign that includes raised elements. Placing a tactile sign in a bathroom or other designated quiet area will serve notice. This is especially true if the phone contains a camera.

Educational institutions, hospitality firms, libraries and research centers will benefit by having customized signs placed throughout facilities. Signs placed on classroom doors will notify others of prohibited cell phone usage. Signs can also notify viewers of quiet zones, prohibition of electronic devices and vibration-only modes.

OSHA, standing for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, focuses on improving workplace safety. Companies can place no cell phone signs throughout their facilities to enhance worker and visitor safety. Sign wording and placement are heavily regulated by OSHA. Consulting with a trained sign professional can improve overall compliance with this complex regulation.

2. Factor in lead time

Customizing any sign involves a time and labor factor. Buyers must consider the time involved between placing an order and receiving the final product. Manufacturers, like Signs Direct, go through an intensive process that includes manually picking the blank sign, setting up the printing machine, and producing the end product. Then, shipping and handling come into play. Workers must securely package the sign, affix appropriate postage, then use the preferred shipping method. Typical lead times range from 3 to 10 days, depending upon the sign manufacturer.

3. Know your purpose

Signs can convey messages ranging from friendly reminders to aggressive warnings. You must understand what you hope to achieve, or your purpose, when customizing your no cell phone sign. Do you want to convey a “shut off” message or a polite “put in silence mode”? Be sure to enhance your sign strategy by making your purpose consistent with your company’s overall personality, goals, and objectives.

4. Know your company style

Signs come in a variety of styles. There is something to suit all needs. It is important to choose a style that fits your company’s personality. Styles include contemporary, classic, deco, antiquity, pacific, Windsor, and traditional. Matching your company style with your sign strategy improves consistency and message impact.

5. Do it online

Reputable sign manufacturers, like Signs Direct, make customizing signs easy and convenient. Many offer online customizing options. Customers simply visit the website, choose a template, then start customizing their sign message. There is no membership joining fees or additional expenses included in this online option. Customization can include company logos, names, and special wording.

Consulting with a trained sign professional can save time, money, and frustration.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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