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It pays to pretend you’re a stranger when putting up signs!

by Rob Haywood
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Be a stranger when putting up signs

Has this ever happened to you? You are driving to a place you have never visited before, and are following the road signs. At the first roundabout, your destination is clearly signed, yet when you reach the next, it appears to have been removed from the face of the earth. Guesswork driving isn’t the most enjoyable game to play!

fire exit down left arrow sign | shop now at The Sign Shed

Equally, you are visiting a location in an industrial estate, and try desperately to work out how to find it from a guide at the entrance that seems designed to confuse. Looking for specific departments inside a large store can follow much the same pattern.

Do you know why all this confusion happens? It’s because signs are usually created and put in place by people who already know the answers! Well, that’s obvious, they couldn’t do the job if they didn’t. But, crucially, it’s easy to forget that those who read, use and rely on those signs are often doing so without any prior knowledge about the destination.

You park your car, believing you have complied with the regulations, and return a few hours later to find a ticket attached to your windscreen simply because you missed – or misread – the parking signs. Again, this can be because they are created and placed by someone who understands these regulations, and they have failed to explain them clearly for those who don’t. The same thing happens with smokers and no smoking signs.

All of these examples should leave you with two clear objectives when creating and placing signs for your business or organisation. Firstly, make sure the information contained is clear for those who don’t have your level of knowledge. This is particularly important in areas such as safety signs. Secondly, the place where you display them should also meet the needs of those unfamiliar with your business location.

One final point: ask another person to check your completed work. A sign on a US highway once asked people to “Pay attention to road sings”. If you make an error, your sub-conscious will often simply see what you meant to say. It’s always best to have that extra check before printing.

Jioning – Is That a Word? by rileyroxx licensed under Creative commons 4

by Rob Haywood

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