How colours are used in signage to make them fast & easy to read


Most people know the various connotations that colours can have when it comes to designing signs for your business, whether it’s school signage, business signage or anything else – but did you know you can also use colours to make your signs faster and easier to read? If you’re wondering how this can be achieved, luckily for you, we’ve got a handy guide right here…

Why bother?

The first question you may be asking is, why? Why do you need to put time, effort and possibly money into making signs that are quicker/easier to read? If the majority of your customers can read the sign in a decent time, is there really any point putting effort into using the right colours and fonts, when you could be putting resources into other things? The answer to that is a simple yes and here’s why…

1. It gives you a much wider customer base

This one follows a pretty simple thought process: your signage being more accessible means a greater number of a potential customer can access it, as the word “access” would suggest, meaning more people can learn about your products or services, increasing your publicity as a whole. Going even further than that at its core, the point of any sign is to effectively communicate who you are as a company, to help people within your business space navigate it, or to do both in a handy package. And any tools that help you to achieve this aim more efficiently should very much be embraced, whether you’re applying it to outdoor or indoor signs.

2. It’s more progressive

Improving accessibility at your company in any form is always a good thing, as it will allow you to build a reputation as a more diverse and forward-thinking company, improving your standing amongst customers and other businesses in your field alike. In fact, outside of colours and accessing the content of signs faster, it’s possible to do this within general, creating signs that are more accessible to those with visual impairments or dyslexia, or even creating a second sign in another language, or in braille.

3. It can help to define your design choices

If you’re struggling to find which direction to go in design-wise for your signage, trying to initially make it more user-friendly could be a great first step! It could help with fonts in particular (as we’ll mention later, it’s best if you pick fonts that are clearer in conjunction with the techniques discussed below), in addition to guiding your use of colours.

How reading works

Now back to the subject of reading fast. When you read, it goes without saying that your eyes flick from one line to another and that the speed of that motion then determines how fast you read. The basic premise we’re working with here is that changing the way the text looks can help your eyes get across the page much faster and in this specific case that can help to make your sign itself a faster reading experience, which is important for the reasons mentioned above.

This all comes down to the lettering you use and how you present said lettering. Using a gradient can help readers eyes to skim across the page, whilst using different colours can have a similar effect.

Other ways you can make signs more accessible

Of course, making signs faster to read isn’t the only way to allow your potential customer base greater accessibility.

In addition to looking over the colours, you should always make sure that any lettering is clear and easy to read. This is also where use of colours on the backing itself becomes important, as using colours that clash with the text can render it inaccessible, even if you have used a font or lettering style that is largely accessible to everyone.

Another aspect of colour that you should definitely be aware of is colour blindness – certain colour combinations can very easily trigger it, with one of the most common kinds of colour blindness being green and red. final note is that, for the same accessibility reasons previously discussed, you should always choose fonts that the majority will find easy to read – if you’re struggling to decide which to go for, a survey or focus group could be a good idea. If you go for the latter option, be sure to record the discussion using a Dictaphone or even the memos on your phone so you can transcribe it afterwards and have images of all your design choices ready. In terms of steering the conversation, it’s usually best to allow all participants to keep and let the conversation go in some different directions, whilst keeping on track overall.

If you don’t have the resources, time, contacts or whatever else to do a focus group, online platforms like Survey Monkey can be really good for the aforementioned surveys. For the most part, they’re very easy to use and to navigate and can be distributed online easily. Doing it online will mean you can spread it to a much wider range of people, as opposed to, for example, creating it on paper and giving it out to people on a one to one basis. In both focus groups and surveys, you should carefully choose the questions you’re going to ask, looking over and considering them like you would for any kind of interview.

So, in conclusion, it’s highly important that you make your signage easy to read and accessible to as many people as possible. From a business perspective, this will allow you to reach as many people as possible, which is after all the point of signage and advertisement in general. It’s also very simple to make your signage faster and easier to read – simply use colours or gradients to allow readers’ eyes to skim across at a much quicker rate. As well as the speed at which it can be read, there are various other factors involved in making signs easier to access, including colour combinations that could trigger colour blindness and using fonts that are easier to read overall.

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