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If We Design it They Will... Follow It

As a seasoned Graphic Designer there comes a time when you realize that you think and breath design and there’s no point in denying the fact. Don't try to overlook the atrocious typography on that sign over there, or the horrific placement of that logo in relationship to that imagery. Just live with it.  This superpower of our’s keeps us in tune or better yet, relevant and dexterous to create effective work that adheres best to the viewer or audience it’s intended for. 

Effective signage, symbols, type, are all important tools in environmental design spaces and one of the easiest examples of this. What works and what doesn’t; what causes your foot traffic to herd in the right directions and not over that cliff over there?? Easy, a sign in big red letters that says CLIFF. But hey, then again some people are curious. We can only do our duty and try our best to lead them away…

This summer after a sudden trip down to Orlando Florida, I found myself navigating a large building close to the downtown city center and I came to notice the horrible navigations throughout the facility. After five attempts to asking directions and 20 minutes later my group finally found it’s destination. It was evident the signage in this place needed an overhaul. It was a classic case of what we call, information overload. This is exactly the dysfunctional goldmine us Design fanatics deal in if we can get our hands on it!

Clearly good signage is a must in any modern environmental design. We as humans are complex but simple beings. Even though we interpret images and things differently, signage/symbols are normally universal elements that help guide us along our daily lives. As a designer thats the important tid bit to keep in mind when creating effective signage. Create something simple yet informative for the universal audience. In this case simplicity is more than likely the best bet. There is much to designing great signage but below are a few points we at Picsul think help across the board as effective and rudimentary.

Effective Signage Elements (in no specific order)

Color Coding

Humans like to group things mentally and visually. By associating certain areas or directions with other corresponding information of similar colors, it makes it easier to find or differentiate.

Legible Typography

This should be a no brainer but, if we can't see it we wont be able to follow it. Choose legible type and fonts that are more visible for the average person to see. Sans serifs are effective but there’s no rule. Just use judgement based on the environment and usage.

Simplicity is Key

People have things to do, people to see, and places to be! Give them the information simply and distinctly so there isn't information overload. If they get confused by it something is wrong. There is nothing worst than trying to find the Nutella but ending up in the Frozen Pizza section…well win win but you know.

Symbols or Icons

Humans have used symbols for ages. Much so that a good number are universal to the eye. Symbols not only serve as a fundamental foundation for human communication it also can sometimes break language barriers. What would we do without the Restroom symbol! Also, this can be the more creative aspect. Just make sure it is going to be recognizable.

These are just a few elements that can make or break signage and environmental design spaces. The most important aspect we have to keep in mind is to think 10 steps ahead of our clients and audience. If we do this we can design what they truly need based on what they WILL see and not vic versa. If you have any other points or anything to add feel free to comment below!




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