Heading into the political campaign season there are starting to be lots of political lawn signs along the road ways. As a designer, I can’t help but think about how each of these signs are designed. Some of them are terrific. They are clear and concise and legible all of which will be an asset to the candidate’s campaign. There are others though, that are not.
If you are new to designing these types of things and want to be sure you create the most effected political or advertising lawn sign, I have some tips for you.
Here are a few rules of thumb that I like to follow when designing a lawn sign or any sign that is meant to be seen from afar.
Use no more than 2 colors
Although color is fun to play with and maybe your branding includes more colors but for an item that is meant to convey a message in a split second, multiple colors confuse the eye. 1 or 2 colors can help your design let the message be clear and impactful. Personally, the most dynamic signs are 1 color with white.
Use contrasting colors
Black and white, blue and red, yellow and purple, etc. Contrasting colors do many good things for your design. Again, it makes it easier to read, allows your message to be clearer and is easier for color blind people to read. Be careful of color combos that make it hard to read.
Keep graphics at a minimum and no fine details
Typography is your friend in this type of design. You can have supporting graphics but make sure they enhance the readability of your message and are not there for “decoration”. Excess graphics and artwork cause confusion for the eye and the message could easily be missed.
“Preview” your designs by shrinking them down to 150×150 pixles or 1/2 inch.
When most people view your sign they will be in a car several feet away. Viewing it small on your computer while you are designing will help give you the idea of how it may look in practice.
Use bold blocky fonts.
Use fonts that are easily read with clean, standard letter shapes. A sans serif or serif fonts are best. Stay away from any script fonts. Remember, make it easy for the eye to read and understand.
Don’t fill every inch of the sign. Allow there to be room to breathe visually around your message. Edit to the very minimum amount of words and design to get your message across.
Design while assuming the regular person will only see this for 2 -3 seconds
See all of the above. Don’t get too tricky with the design. Highlight what the viewer needs to know the most. If they forget everything else, what’s the one thing they would need to remember most. That is what needs to be most prominent and clear on your sign.
Even with these restrictions, you can still be creative and have fun with your sign designs. Testing them and assuming they will only glimpsed at, should help you guide your design into a winner.
Looking for a cheap and easy play to print your lawn signs, check out VistaPrint.
Curious about the effectiveness of a political lawn sign, NPR has an article discussing this very thing.