Author Archives: Tom Dalton

Successful Business Owners Are Sign Savvy

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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.

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

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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.

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 3 – Bad Logo Designed By Client

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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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ADA Rules Make Access Easy

Regulatory Signs
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In American history, few regulations have impacted business like those contained in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III of the ADA regulates access to buildings and parking lots for people with disabilities to create access and prevent unintended discrimination. The regulations contained within title III cover things like entrances, ramps and parking spaces. The regulations in title III of the ADA also cover the familiar handicap signs that accompany accessible entrances, ramps and parking spaces. This article will cover some highlighted regulations from title III of the ADA, as well as a little information on the famous symbol emblazoned up handicap signs and handicap parking signs around the world.

ada-handicap-parking-space

According to the Department of Justice (n.d.), there must be an accessible route connecting handicapped parking spaces to accessible building entrances. If the private entity that owns the building is not in charge of the parking, then it is not necessary for them to comply, although the technical manual of the ADA encourages making the request to the appropriate governing body.

The number of necessary handicap spaces in a parking lot depends on a number of things. For instance, a parking lot with 100 spaces needs four handicap spaces, which is obviously only 4 percent. If the building is a medical care facility, where people may stay more than 24 hours, or where emergencies are handled, then 10 percent of the parking spaces need to be handicap, no matter the total number. Furthermore, if the building is a medical rehab facility that specializes in treating people with impaired mobility, then a full 20 percent of the parking spots must be handicapped.

Anyone who has ever wondered why icons like “low beam” and “windshield wiper” always look the same in every car should only look to ISO 7001 for explanation. Additional to the many well-known symbols contained within that standard is the International Symbol of Access (ISA) that emblazons handicap parking signs around the world. The ISA on handicap signs is the familiar white stick figure in a wheelchair, usually on a blue background. While the ADA may be an American law, the symbol used on handicap parking signs is international. In fact, the ISA is standardized by the International Standards Organization under the ISO 7001 standard.

The ISA isn’t only used for handicap parking spaces either; to comply with the ADA, they must also appear at passenger loading zones, accessible entrances and restrooms, if not every aforementioned area in a particular area is accessible.

The ISA is actually a copyrighted image. The copyright is held by the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility. The image was originally designed in 1968 by Susanne Koefoed, but according to Wikipedia, it was Karl Montan who made the final modification of giving the figure a head to make it the symbol known today. Now, handicap signs and handicap parking spaces everywhere display the symbol.

The ADA itself is not the only bit deserving of praise for raising the level of accessibility in the United States. Although the ADA is a law and it’s enforced by penalties, the cooperation of businesses across the country has helped the disabled, and proved that government and business can combine to make the world a better place.

References

(N.D.). “International Symbol of Access.” Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Symbol_of_Access

(N.D.). “Americans with Disabilities Act: ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual Covering Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities.” Department of Justice. Retrieved from http://www.ada.gov/taman3.html

(2013). “The International Language of ISO Graphical Symbols.” International Standards Organization. Retrieved from http://www.iso.org/iso/graphical-symbols_booklet.pdf

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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Safety Orange: Blazing Through the Sky

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If only scientists had determined what color stands out best against the blue sky so they may use that color for safety signs. Oh wait a minute, scientists have figured this out! The color is called “safety orange” and it’s the natural complimenting color to azure – the sky’s blue color. Safety orange can be seen on all sorts of items, from construction signs to hunter hats. This article will take a look at the generals and specifics regarding this shade of orange as well as its use in safety signs.

What is safety orange

Would the orange color of a sign by any other name be as noticeable? Not to get Shakespearean, but safety orange gets called a lot of things, although according to OSHA, it’s the same color. In fact, safety orange is also called OSHA orange. Other names for safety orange include blaze orange, vivid orange, hunter orange, and for some reason, Omaha orange.

For anyone who is interested, safety orange is actually called Omaha orange because a thrifty man from Ford Brothers Van & Storage in Omaha was looking for an affordable color to paint his trucks. Those trucks became known as Allied Van Lines, and they are Omaha orange to this day. The color came from the mixing of leftover paint, after the thrifty man made a deal.

The color orange is halfway between yellow and red on the color spectrum. In safety signs, yellow means caution and red means danger. Safety orange is a little beyond halfway between yellow and red on the visible light spectrum; it’s closer to red, which also places safety orange closer to danger on the safety spectrum. For OSHA compliance, safety orange is used to denote that parts of a machine are dangerous or energized.

Safety orange also must be worn by hunters to stay safe in the forest. Replica guns are required to have safety orange tips, to help clue law enforcement and others into the fact that it’s a fake gun. Perhaps safety orange is most widely recognized as the color of traffic cones and barrels. As mentioned earlier, safety orange works terrific for safety signs in road construction sites, due to its complementary contrast to the azure blue sky. Next to the sky, an Omaha orange safety sign will stand out the same way black letters do on a white sheet of paper.

How are colors used in safety signs

Safety orange isn’t the only color used for OSHA compliance in safety signs. OSHA actually has a safety code for signs using all the colors of the rainbow. As already mentioned, to OSHA, red means danger, orange is between red and yellow, and yellow means caution. Next on the spectrum is safety green, which according to OSHA is used to denote safety routes, exits and first aid kits. A safety blue sign will give important safety information. Currently, OSHA recognizes a safety purple, but has not defined what it means. Black, white and yellow used together typically denote traffic.

When it comes to making safety signs, there’s more to the message on them for OSHA compliance. Colors have meanings in the realm of safety, and whether people know the definitions of the OSHA safety colors or not, the connotations are there.

References

(N.D.). “Description for Ford Brothers Van & Storage.” DexKnows. Retrieved from http://www.dexknows.com/business_profiles/ford_brothers_van_and_storage-b1558714

(N.D.). “Safety Orange.” Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_orange

(N.D.). “Safety Orange Cross.” Seiyaku.com. Retrieved from http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/crosses/safety-orange.html#sup04

(2013). “Safety Sign and Marking Requirements.” Grainger. Retrieved from http://www.grainger.com/content/qt-safety-sign-marking-requirements-201

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

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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 Promise of iBeacon – Impact on Retailers

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Things to consider when adopting iBeacon technology. There are amazing opportunities to boost sales, but there are as many dangers. This video takes you through several scenarios to get you thinking.

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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Best Way to Get Store Traffic – Hand Drawn Signs

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You’re walking down a sidewalk – which is more likely to catch your eye – a sidewalk sign with hand drawn art or a printed “Come on in, we’re open” sign? If you’re like most, the hand drawn art will get you every time. It makes the business feel more human, like the people inside really care and take pride in their store – whether it’s clothing or coffee. This video can show you how to create hand drawn art for your sidewalk signs, even if you aren’t an artist.

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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Handy Guide to Complying with OSHA Safety Sign Standards

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The importance of safety signs cannot be overstated. It’s impossible to know how many lives workplace safety signs save per year, but people take notice when there isn’t a sign posted where one ought to be. Thanks to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers as well as the public at-large have come to expect the ever-present safety signs posted around industrial job sites. Through OSHA compliance, the resulting uniformity makes safety signs easy to understand, which is what makes them effective.

Hard Hat Area Sign

What is OSHA?

After President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law in 1971, OSHA was established as an agency in the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency is charged with enforcing workplace safety laws. OSHA also has regulatory powers, and they have created guidelines for a number of workplace safety processes and procedures.

There are OSHA regulations pertaining specifically to the design of OSHA safety signs. The regulations describe types of safety signs, and they also point to a set of design standards created by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in the late 1960s. The ANSI standards have actually been updated since then, but as with the nature of governmental bureaucracy, they have not gone through the necessary approval process within OSHA to become official yet. Still, OSHA will make exceptions during their inspections if signs are up to the new ANSI standards, and still offer at least as much warning as they would under the official ANSI standards from the late 1960s that are recognized by OSHA.

What are the OSHA safety sign requirements?

What set of regulations would be complete without a definition of a basic word for which everyone takes for granted? In this case, the word is “sign”. OSHA defines a sign as a surface that contains warnings or instructions about nearby hazards for workers and the public at-large. OSHA specifically points out that news releases, safety posters and bulletins are not included in the definition of safety sign. In other words, having a safety poster won’t help a business become OSHA compliant. Where there are hazards, there needs to be safety signs warning of those hazards.

According to OSHA regulations, there are basically three different types of workplace safety signs. They are danger signs, caution signs and informational signs. To be OSHA compliant, a safety sign needs to conform to a specific set of colors which are dictated by on the type of sign being displayed. To simply describe the basic layout of a safety sign, it should be rectangular, consisting of a background, a colored panel at the top containing a signal word, and then an area for a message below it.

Danger signs

Danger signs should be used to signify an imminent threat such as radiation present in an area.  The OSHA regulations say there may be no variations made to their symbols and messaging as directed by the standards. A danger sign needs to specify that there is an immediate danger, and employees need to be trained to recognize that threat and act appropriately.

Danger signs need to be red, black and white as described in both the ANSI and OSHA standards.The sign background should be white and the panel at the top of the sign should be black.In the black panel, the word “Danger” should be white letters in a red circle. Any letters that appear on the white background should be black. Following these guidelines will make a danger sign OSHA compliant.

Warning signs

Warning signs should be used to warn against a potential hazard that could cause injury or death such as “Hot Surface”.  The OSHA regulations say there may be no variations made to their symbols and messaging as directed by the standards. A warning sign needs to specify that there is a potential danger, and employees need to be trained to recognize that dangerous condition and act appropriately.

Warning signs need to have an orange background with black lettering as described in both the ANSI and OSHA standards.  The panel at the top of the sign should be the black warning symbol.  In the black panel, the word “Warning” should be black letters in a horizontal rectangle. Any letters that appear on the orange background should be black. Following these guidelines will make a danger sign OSHA compliant.

Caution signs

Caution signs are used to warn of potentially hazardous situation or to caution against unsafe practices or inappropriate actions that could cause injury or death. One example may be a sign that says “Hard Hat Area” or “Watch for Forklifts”.  According to the OSHA rules about safety signs, employees need to be trained that these signs indicate that they need to take proper precautions while in that area to ensure safety and prevent accidents.

The ANSI standards for caution signs say they need to have a yellow background. Like danger signs, caution signs should also have a black panel up top. However, caution panels should have yellow letters for the word “caution” to comply with OSHA standards. Any letters appearing in the message below the panel will be on the yellow background and should be black.

Informational signs

Informational signs follow a similar uniformity as danger and caution signs, except info sign colors are white backgrounds with a green panel and white letters within the panel. Below the panel, the lettering on the white background of informational signs should be black to comply with ANSI standards.

Letters and Symbols

When it comes to lettering for safety signs, the information in the OSHA standards gives readability guidelines for letters ranging from 3.5 inches to a quarter-inch tall. Letters 3.5 inches tall are visible up to 200 to 210 feet away. One-inch letters can be read 60 to 65 feet away, and quarter-inch letters are visible from 15 to 20 feet.

ANSI Regulations

The OSHA standards for safety signs have yet to be updated. They cite standards created by ANSI from 1967 and 1968 currently; however there are new ANSI standards since 2011 governing signs. As long as protection offered by signs is equal to or greater than 2011 standards, then you should be covered when they’re formally accepted. Still, the new ANSI standards have not been formally adopted, and enforcement will still be based on the old ANSI standards.

The old standards for safety signs were found under ANSI Z35.1-1968 and ANSI Z53.1-1967. These sets of standards covered sign specifications and colors respectively. Today, ANSI has a number of standards to govern safety signs. The new standards are labeled as the ANSI Z535 standards. However, as mentioned above, the new standards have yet to officially become part of OSHA regulations.

Safety Signs & OSHA Compliance

Ultimately, the most important thing about safety signs is that they work. Safety signs must be uniform in design and easy-to-read while maintaining a concise message. OSHA standards say safety signs need enough necessary info to be understood. People should know at a glance what they should and shouldn’t do in an area. It’s easy to accomplish this if employers and sign makers maintain OSHA compliance on safety signs.

References

U.S. Department of Labor. (N.D.). “Specifications for accident prevention signs and tags.” OSHA. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9794

U.S. Department of Labor. (22 February 2011). “Standard Interpretations” OSHA. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=27641

United States of America Standards Institute. (1968). “Specifications for Accident Prevention Signs.” Z53.1-1968. Retrieved from https://law.resource.org/pub/us/cfr/ibr/002/ansi.z35.1.1968.pdf.

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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