Posted on Saturday, January 27th, 2024
Customers often load a sign with excessive copy that forces the sign designer to use smaller letter sizes, hurting the readability of the sign. Reading from a moving vehicle also requires larger, more legible lettering. Most customers can’t imagine what size lettering should be for it to be legible at the distance it will be read from.
Tired of trying to explain all this to clients, Larry Williams, Gulf Breeze, Florida, created a simple chart that he output at actual size—about 4 ft. tall overall—and mounted it on the far wall of the shop.
“I point it out to the customer,” says Larry, “then tell them the distance they are reading it from. It works better than a 15-minute explanation of legibility—in a few seconds.”
Someone in a passing car has about three seconds to read a sign. When you have a customer look at this chart as you count to three, many start to realize that all that secondary copy they want on the sign is hurting the chance of people getting the main message.
Larry also provides the chart as part of a printed handout. Under the chart, the handout shows the different categories of typefaces and gives Larry an opportunity to explain how type choice affects legibility. You can download the chart and handout here.
“I find it’s best to teach a client the basics,” Larry says, “so they can make an informed decision based on measurable truth. Sign making is a science as well as an art. I also find that as the teacher, I become an ‘expert’ in the client’s eyes.
“It’s a precarious position, because once you are viewed as an expert, you actually have to be an expert! It’s not impossible—it is just the opportunity to be honest and share your knowledge to help them get the best value for their advertising dollar.”