Readability of (illuminated) signage

Suppose your company has moved into a beautiful new office building, with a new sign you proudly show everybody that you are the new occupant of the building. But now you wonder, does your sign (and thus your company) get noticed, and can people read it well enough? Often the effect of poorly readable signage is underestimated. When it is hard for passers-by to read your sign, it will probably go unnoticed. Unfortunately most of the time the owner is not aware the desired effect is not achieved. That is one of the reasons we often see illegible signage, while the solution can be very simple!

There are a few aspects that influence the readability of signage:
  • The size of the signage in relation to the sight distance
  • The spacing of the text
  • The colour of the sign and the contrast with the background

It will not come as a surprise that size is of importance. There are plenty of tables available that show what format can best be applied at different viewing distances. We often see that organisations do not evaluate their signage from the viewing point of the passer-by. It is important to know if the passer-by is a pedestrian or a driver that passes by at a much higher speed. For the latter the sign needs to be larger in order to be seen and read.

Everybody will understand that it is important that you can read signage in just one glance, whether you walk, cycle or drive past it. In order to make sure the sign is readable, the distance between the individual letters must be large enough.

signage with unsufficient spacing between the individual letters of te text

For example, the signage in the picture above would have been better readable when there was more space between the letters.

This principle is even more applicable to signage on your vehicle fleet. Our starting point is that text on a vehicle must be readable at a speed of 50 miles/h. In the past years we have regularly advised companies to use an adapted version of their logo, with adjusted spacing, on their fleet.

Colour and contrast
Different colours have different effects on the readability of a sign. For example it is commonly known that when it comes to illuminated signage, blue is a difficult colour to make properly readable. Although modern LED techniques have improved the results. The best colours for signage, in terms of readability, are white and red. But be aware that in illuminated signage, white has the tendency to outshine other colours, which in turn has a negative impact on the readability of the sign.

Naturally the colour of the background is of importance as well. Red can be a great colour for your sign, but when it is your intention to install it on a red brick wall it will go unnoticed. The picture below shows the impact of the background colour on the illegibility of the sign.

Background colour can be highly important when it comes to the readability of your sign

We know better than anyone that your brand colour, even when it is not convenient, cannot be adjusted. Fortunately there are many possibilities to make sure your signage can be easily read. And that starts with good advice, taking into account all the before mentioned aspects!