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Signage System Design Criteria

Signage System Design Criteria

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Published by manasipophale
major categories for consideration of way finding and signage design
major categories for consideration of way finding and signage design

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Published by: manasipophale on Dec 10, 2009
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03/02/2013

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SIGNAGE SYSTEM DESIGN CRITERIAInitial consideration should be directed toward determining thebasic parameters required in developing the signage system. Eachof the merits discussion here.PERFORMANCE REQUIREMNETSSigns usually must be designed to meet specific performancerequirements. The good designer will determine how a system is toperform within given space relationships. The sign system mayfunction entirely on its own merit, or it may be supplemented bystaff personnel at major decision-making locations such as the mainlobby and reception areas. Sign devices may become decorativeamenities to be featured within the environment, or they may besubtle and low-key elements of major importance. Super-graphicsmay be considered in certain areas simply as an art form, or as afunctional graphic device presented in large scale for emphasis of context. Certainly a combination of the two is feasible. These areonly several performance considerations that should be addressedprior to the development of the signage system. The designer mustevaluate the needs of the client, the unique traffic flowrequirements and mounting restrictions dictated by the structure,and the basic performance requirements desired of the signingdevices to be utilized.USAGE CONSIDERATIONS The general nature of the building complex often defines how signsare to be used. They may be given an appearance of being fixedand an integral part of the architecture by appropriate selection of materials, colors and mountings, or they may appear changeableand temporary should need so dictate. Some signage requiresconstant change to properly relate information to people or peopleto facility, while most sign devices are considered permanentfixtures within a given space. The designer is responsible fordetermining how signs are to be used most effectively and at thesame time, for enhancing the environment.DURABILITY REQUIREMENTSPrior to the selection of materials for a signing system, durabilityrequirements must be considered. The vast assortment of materialsavailable for signs covers a wide spectrum of durability from softplastics to metals. The sign copy and background material should beevaluated both individually and jointly when considering durabilityrequirements.VANDALISM CONSIDERATIONSSigns located in controlled spaces are often free from destructivevandalism; however, in many instances vandalism becomesrampant and uncontrolled. There are no materials that mayaccurately be labeled “vandal proof”. However, some materials are
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more vandal-resistant than others. Where vandalism is of primeimportance, only materials and graphic techniques engineered toresist destruction should be considered.FLEXIBILITY TO ACCOMMODATE CHANGES AND ADDITIONSModern architectural structures are designed to accommodate innerspecial changes to meet tenant needs. Partition systems, pre-hungdoor units, room dividers, and modular furniture have ensured easeof change in office-scapes. The sign system may also requirealterations to preserve continuity. Changes and additions to a signsystem should be considered by the designer prior to the selectionof materials, graphic techniques and mounting methods to be used.READABILITY FACTORSSign readability is determined by the letter style selected, size of copy, interletter spacing, copy position and angle of observance.LETTER STYLELetter styles are classified as sanserif and serif. Sansrif letters, suchas Helvetica, are more contemporary than serif letters, such asClarendon. Each letter style has its own unique personality andflavor. Printers carry alphabets in most letter styles, includinglowercase letters as well as uppercase. Test results indicate thatmessages starting with an initial uppercase letter and followed bylowercase characters are more recognizable than messages formedwith uppercase characters only. Lowercase letters have more“personality” because their shape is varied by ascenders anddecenders, resulting in characteristic word forms that are mucheasier to recognize than all uppercase word forms. Also people aremore accustomed to reading text in upper and lowercase than in allupper case. The proper selection of a particular alphabet should becarefully considered, not only from a legibility point of view, but alsofrom a “personality” standpoint. The letter style should make aconcise and meaningful impression in the environment it serves.READABILITYReadability is directly related to the size of the copy. Visibilitystudies indicate that 1-inch-high Helvetica Medium,for example, isreadable from a distance of 40 feet. Using this as a measure forcomparison, 1-inch-high Clarendon style would be readable frosomewhat a lesser distance, approximately 25 feet. The distancevisibility per 1-inch height may be used as a guideline to determinedistance readability for larger letters; that is 2-inch-high HelveticaMedium will be readable at 80 feet, and 3-inch at 120 feet. This
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direct proportion may be helpful for determining copy (text) sizesfor signs used in pedestrian situations. However, the directproportion may not hold true for vehicular traffic applications wheremany other factors are involved. The designer must exercisecaution after selecting the alphabet and copy size to make certainthe lettering will fit properly on the sign background. The sign sizeshould be determined using the longest line of copy and maximumnumber of copy lines that may be required.LETTERS AND LINE SPACINGInterletter spacing and interline spacing of copy greatly affect theoverall readability of a sign. Message legibility and ease of recognition are increased when proper visual relationships areestablished between individual characters, words, and lines of copy.Copy with spacing too tight becomes very difficult to read; copy withtoo open spacing tends to break the message down into fragments.Proper spacing depends largely on the distance from which themessage is to be read. Messages to be read at close distancesshould employ tighter spacing than messages that will be read atgreater distances. Spacing is also affected by the angle at which themessage is to be viewed: greater angles of observance requirewider interletter spacing to prevent the characters of the messagefrom appearing to run together.COPY POSITION The position of copy on the sign background influences the overallreadability. Signs on which copy occupy most of the background arenot as readable as signs that have sufficient background materialsurrounding the copy to form a visual barrier separating themessage from the environment.Emphasis should be placed on selecting an appropriate sign size tobest accommodate the sign message. There are nine basic copyplacement positions to be considered in determining the importantrelationship of copy to sign background. There are: upper left, uppercentered, upper right, centered left, centered, centered right, lowerleft, lower centered, and lower right. Traditionally, the most popularplacement selections have been the centered and upper leftpositions.COLORColor of copy and sign background greatly affect readability. Strongcontrasting colors are more readable than less dramatic color
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