30th of April 2010 0
1. General Considerations In Designing a Sign
A commanding, effective sign will help your business grow, your message get across, your location get known, or your candidate get elected, so be sure to choose the best sign design for your specific location and application!
Many different types of signs are produced in the United States these days, and the right kind and size of the sign needs to be chosen wisely for each application. Every application will have its own unique and widely ranging issues related to it.
The first thing to do is determine the general type of sign you’re going to design:
large or small?
poster, or printed?
something backlit or edgelit?
2. Getting Down to The Details
Once the general size and type are determined, it’s time to start thinking through the details. When designing a new business or government sign, there are certain items that always need to be taken into consideration, such as:
what is the general application?
will this be used indoor or outdoor?
what type of lighting will be used if any?
what materials will be used in its construction?
how will it be mounted?
and so on.
3. Tailoring the Design to the Sign’s Future Use
Some important contextual items to consider with a new sign include:
what need does it fulfill?
does it command attention?
will it be viewed by pedestrians or motorists?
is it compliant with UL and the local municipality sign regulations?
what are the power requirements and restrictions?
will it be permanent or portable?
4. Coordinating With the End-Users
If the sign is for an end users who have provided you with a sketch of their idea, whether on a bar napkin or sophisticated computer drawings, make sure you thoroughly discuss their wants and needs, and go through all aspects of its design with them:
what is the overall look of the sign?
are there weight restrictions?
are there critical dimensions anywhere?
where and how will the sign be displayed?
Some users will have very specific details of their design and others will rely on your experience and creativity to realize their vision.
5. Illuminating the Sign
If the sign is to be illuminated, there’s a whole new set of considerations, and a few different light sources that you can use:
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are becoming more popular everyday as the costs are coming down and the quality is going up;
Fluorescent bulbs are in large use and come in a wide variety of shapes and lengths and color temperatures;
Energy-eating incandescent bulbs are becoming less and less common all the time, and are even banned completely in some locations;
Neon lamps should still be around for quite awhile due to their unique properties.
Some other types of lighting to consider are Cold Cathode Tubes, Electro Luminescent Panels, Low Pressure Sodium Lamps, and High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps. HIDs include: Mercury Vapor, Metal Halide, & High Pressure Sodium.
6. Adding Back Lighting for Backlit Displays
When a sign is to have back lighting, yet another set of considerations must be addressed. For example:
the depth of the sign is very important.
he distance of the light source to the diffuser panel and/or the graphics material needs to be far enough so that the individual bulbs or tubes cannot be seen.
there needs to be an overlapping of the light sources so that hot spots and darker areas are not present.
the spacing between the light sources is also equally important for even lighting across the entire surface.
7. Considering the Environment
With indoor signs the environment is usually not much of a concern, but with outdoor signs the local environment will play a huge role in the sign’s design. Things that must be considered include:
the annual average local rainfall is always something to consider, and properly sealing the sign against rainwater is a must;
in cold northern climates, heaters may be required;
in hot southern climates, exhaust fans or air conditioners may be needed;
along the ocean’s coasts, salt spray will influence the material selection to reduce corrosion;
in areas that are prone to hurricanes, the structure needs to be extra strong to withstand the high wind loads;
and always check with the local municipal codes governing signs in that area!
8. Maintaining the Sign
An often-overlooked item is sign maintenance. If you have large sign that is mounted on top of a 90′ pole, you will want to use the longest lasting lights that are available. Every time a cherry picker truck is needed just to change a bulb will cost you money, which should have been used initially for the best, longest lasting lighting system around.